Structural Geology

Powerful forces in the Earth deform rocks into folds and faults, push up mountain ranges and make ocean basins. These deformation processes have a profound effect on humankind, most obviously via earthquakes, landslides, etc. But there are many more mundane reasons to be interested in deformation: hydrocarbons are trapped by folds and sealed by fault rocks; water and contaminants flow through cracks in rocks; and the strength of the rock mass is critical to any construction project, not only mining and quarrying, but also any bridge, highway, or other edifice.

This major will teach you how to understand and analyze rock deformation using basic principals of mechanics as well as classical description and classification. By the end of the major, you should know why rocks break at different angles under different conditions and how to use those angles to determine the orientations of stresses that deformed rocks millions of years ago. You will be able to describe quantitatively the how progressive strain can produce the apparent juxtaposition of unlike geologic features even though they formed during a single deformation event. You will know how to use a geologic map to extract information about deformation in four dimensions by clearly defining the relations of fold and fault geometry, unconformities, and stratigraphic sequences. And finally, you will be able to calculate the nature of buoyant masses that make mountains higher than the surrounding plains. During the first half of the major, we will lay the mechanical groundwork for understanding structures. After we have that background we will be able to describe structures and understand why they form. Lecture and lab are complementary: in lab you will learn practical, mostly graphical techniques for how to describe structures whereas lecture provides a broader, more theoretical perspective. Some field trips every year will provide some exceptional opportunities to see structures “in the wild” rather than crude blackboard sketches and static photographs.

The major in Ocean University of China has three research interests: (1) Precambrian Formation and Meso-Cenozoic destruction of North and South China Cratons in East China, which are realted to coupling of shallow-deep structural processes, oil-gas exploration and large earthquake harzard; (2) The Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogen and its sorrounding basins, which are related to research of continental dynamics such as exhumation of HP-UHP rocks, and oil-gas exploration; (3) Tectonic evolution of continental margin of east China, especially formation of the East China Sea and South China Sea basins, Okinawa trough, and marine geodynamics of northwest Pacific ocean.