Structure and Tectonics

The Structure and Tectonics research group at Northern Illinois University integrates field and laboratory work with numerical, analytical and physical modeling to better understand large- and small-scale deformation processes. These endeavors are important in a wide variety of applications such as hydrocarbon exploration and production, earthquake risk assessment, geological engineering, geothermal energy, waste disposal, groundwater resource management, and predicting the response of glaciers, ice shelves and ice sheets to global climate change.

Graduate students are trained in geological and geophysical field techniques, modern seismic interpretation methods, numerical modeling and quantitative geostatistical and geospatial analysis. This approach leaves them well prepared for additional graduate study, or for an assortment of jobs in the petroleum, environmental, mining and engineering sectors of the job market.


  • Phil Carpenter - geophysics, seismology, engineering geology
  • Mark P. Fischer - fracture and fault mechanics, tectonic geomorphology and paleohydrology
  • Paul Stoddard - plate tectonics, geodynamics and geophysics

Research Facilities

The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences is home to a wide variety of field equipment, computer hardware, software, and laboratory facilities that are used by faculty and students in the Structure and Tectonics research group.  Students conduct field mapping with high resolution differential GPS units, and use Move™, Poly3D™ and FRANC to create 2-D and 3-D numerical models of faults, folds, and fractures.  Field and laboratory results are assembled and analyzed in ArcGIS™ databases, while seismic datasets are interpreted with IHS's Kingdom™ and the open source software OpendTect.  Scaled, analog models of upper crustal folding and faulting are conducted in the physical modeling lab.