Tectonics and Geodynamics

Nature is a skillful and patient sculpturer. Nature sculpts our planet through surface and tectonic processes over hundred millions of years. The field of Tectonics and Geodynamics studies the tectonics processes that shape the surface of our planet through structural geological field investigations and state of the art geodynamic modeling.  We combine geological and geophysical field data to describe regions of deformed rocks and then design physical an/or dynamically scaled models to understand the tectonic processes that form geological structures in the crust and upper mantle. 

Model of movements in the earth's crust. Illustration.

Our research into Tectonics and Geodynamics is both structure- and process- oriented, and includes asking fundamental questions regarding the dynamics of rock deformation and structural control of hydrocarbon and ore accumulations and exploration, with a strong focus on educating junior researchers. Our research on salt tectonics and landslide dynamics have also direct societal application for waste disposal and risk assessment. Until recently, we have been the only group providing a course in tectonic modeling. Increasing numbers of tectonic laboratories elsewhere are following our lead and providing a course in tectonic modeling.

We have strong international collaboration both through hosting of visitors to our internationally well-regarded Hans Ramberg Tectonic Laboratory every year, and through field investigations in different parts of the world (e.g., the Pyrenese (Spain), Hellenic orogeny (Greece), Zagros fold-and-thrust belt (Iran and Kurdistan), Yanshan mountains (China), Cape de Cruse (Spain), Variscan fold-and-thrust belt (Germany), (Norway), and (Scotland)).

The recent and ongoing research topics in our group are listed below:

Orogen dynamics

  • Effect of basement faulting on the evolution of orogens, particularly fold-and-thrust belts
  • Effect of (natural and anthropic) hydrofracturing and structural control on hydrology and hydrocarbon migration
  • Significance of variations in lithological facies on deformation of the Pyrenean and Zagros fold-thrust belts
  • Quantifying penetrative strain in orogenic belts
and constraining their dynamics
  • The effect of multiple detachments on the evolution of fold-and-thrust belts.
  • Significance of unconformity during deformation

Tectonic model. Illustration.

Lithosphere-scale dynamics

  • Initiation of subduction
  • Asymmetric gravitational spreading of thickened lower crust
  • Strain quantification at Lithosphere-Asthenosphere boundary
  • Exhumation of UHP rocks

Active tectonic and non-tectonic deformation

  • Geodetic monitoring of active tectonics at plate boundaries and in cratons
  • Landslides and slope stability
  • Impact structures

Basin tectonics

  • Effect of pre-existing weak zones on the onset of rifting.
  • Asymmetric inversion of sedimentary basins
  • Superimposed deformations.
  • Evolution of strike-slip faults.
  • Overprinting of post-glacial uplift

Salt tectonics

  • Internal deformation in salt structures, particularly salt extrusions
  • Initiation of downbuilt salt structures
  • The role of pre-existing deformation on salt structures.
  • Deformation of pre-existing salt structures.