Geodynamics (Geo: Earth and Dynamics: Forces) uses numerical models to quantitatively link our geophysical observations of the Earth's surface to the inaccessible processes at depth. The Numerical Modeling Team conducts investigations that significantly impact global natural hazards assessments and bring international attention to the South Dakota School of Mines. These investigations focus on using Finite Element Models (FEMs) for: 

  • Megathrust earthquakes and Tsunami Genesis
  • Poroelastic deformation, viscoelastic creep, and triggered aftershocks 
  • Reservoir impoundment and induced seismicity
  • Fluid injection and fracture propagation
  • Magma flux and storage within active volcanoes
  • Heat flow and thermoelastic systems
  • Inverse models of InSAR and GPS data  
  • Optimization and uncertainty

Remote Sensing

  • Ground surface deformation measurement using InSAR
  • Photogrammetry (both land and drone-based acquisitions)
  • Hyperspectral/infrared spectroscopy


  • Subduction zones dynamics
  • Cordilleran tectonics and cyclicity in orogenic systems
  • Characterizing the nature and evolution of crustal magma reservoirs
  • Advancing joint seismic imaging methods
  • Imaging the magmatic plumbing beneath active volcanoes


  • Ed Duke
    Petrology, Infrared spectroscopy, Remote sensing   
  • Kurt Katzenstein 
    Geohazards, Geomechanics, InSAR
  • Liangping Li
    Groundwater, Statistics, Data assimilation
  • Tim Masterlark 
    Numerical Modeling
  • Gokce Ustunisik 
    Igneous Petrology,  Experimental Petrology, Planetary Petrology, High Pressure/Temperature Geo-Chemistry, Chemical Volcanology
  • Kevin Ward 
    Seismic imaging, Geophysical inverse problems, Broadband and nodal geophone deployments

Research Focus Areas