Structure, Tectonics, and Geodynamics

Structural Geology

  • Structural evolution of the Black Hills Precambrian
  • Investigation of structural controls on gold mineralization (Nevada and Black Hills region of South Dakota)
  • Regional structure of the Niobrara Formation South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska
  • Structural geology of the Slim Butte area, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
  • Structural evolution of metamorphic core complexes and detachment faults (Western Turkey and Basin and Range - USA)


  • Laramide tectonics
  • Geotectonic evolution of supradetachment basins (Western Turkey and Basin and Range - USA)
  • Kinematics of extensional and extension-parallel faulting
  • Computational thermodynamic/phase equilibria modeling research in convergent plate margins
  • Role of volatiles (Cl, F, S, H2O) in silicate melts during crustal formation and differentiation (fractionation, degassing, high-T metamorphism, and fluid/rock interaction)


Geodynamics (Geo: Earth and Dyamics: 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 (M9) quakes and Tsunami Genesis
  • Poroelastic deformation, viscoelastic creep, and triggered aftershocks
  • Reservoir impoundment and induced seismicity
  • Magma flux of active volcanoes
  • Inverse models of InSAR and GPS data 
  • Optimization and uncertainty


  • 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


  • Zeynep Baran
    Basin analysis, Structural geology and tectonics, Extensional deformation   
  • Timothy Masterlark
    Numerical Modeling 
  • Foster Sawyer
    Groundwater, Petroleum, Sedimentation
  • 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

Emeritus Faculty

  • Alvis Lisenbee
    Structural geology, Tectonics, Geologic mapping

Research Focus Areas