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Applications of structural geology to other disciplines

Mineral exploration, exploitation

  • What tectonic/structural environments are structurally favorable for mineral deposit formation?
  • What types of dilatant openings can form to host ore?
  • How can we recognize ore deposits that have been disrupted by deformation?
  • How do structures control the distribution of alteration assemblages locally and regionally?
  • How to characterize the strength and failure potential of mined slopes and openings?

Petroleum exploration, exploitation

  • What tectonic/structural environments are structurally favorable for hydrocarbon deposit formation?
  • What structural traps are possible in petroleum systems?
  • How can 4-way closure be determined in the subsurface?
  • How can subsurface structure be inferred from surface structure?
  • How can we predict the occurrence and structural character of fractured reservoirs?
  • How do the presence and geometry of various structures (fractures, stylolites, etc.) affect hydrocarbon (fluid) production?
  • How does rock fabric effect drilling efficiency?

Engineering, environmental and hydrogeology

  • How can we determine and characterize the effect of fractures on fluid flow in the subsurface?
  • How can we determine and characterize the effect of fractures and anisotropy on rock strength?
  • What structural studies are important in characterizing nuclear and other waste sites, and construction sites?
  • How do structures control the dispersion of chemicals in the surface and subsurface environment?
  • How do structures control the occurrence and distribution of water resources?

Geologic hazard assessment (volcanic, seismic, mass wasting)

  • What are tectonic/structural controls on volcanic and seismic hazards?
  • What structural data are important in hazard assessment?
  • How can we predict the effects of structure on slope stability?
  • What are the effects of structure (and related fluid pressure) on the occurrence of induced seismicity and slope failure?

Petrology (igneous/metamorphic)

  • How can deformation and strain gradients control metamorphic reactions?
  • What structural controls affect the emplacement of igneous bodies?

Climate studies

  • How can we assess the effects of climate on structure (such as the growth of mountain belts and strain rates of fault slip)?
  • How can we assess the effects of structure on climate (such as orographic effects)?

Geoarchaeology

  • What are the effects of structure on paleo-societies, and on the distribution and character of archeological sites?

Planetary geology

  • What can we learn about the structure of terrestrial and icy planets and applications to the study of Earth history?

Sedimentology/stratigraphy

  • How does structure control the architecture and stratigraphic nature of growth packages (fault and/or fold growth structure)?
  • How can structure affect the distribution of sedimentary facies, such as string sands which may form in structurally-controlled bathymetric lows?
  • What rheological and kinematic characteristics can be inferred from study of soft-sediment structures (folds, faults, cleavages, etc.)?

Tectonic studies

  • How can focal mechanism studies be used to infer plate motions and interactions?
  • What is the relation of faults and folds to uplift and denudation, and the development of tectonic geomorphology

Glaciology and analog studies

  • How can we use studies of ice deformation to infer the rheological behavior of rocks undergoing deformation
  • How does bedrock structure affect the development of glaciers and ice sheets?

Geomorphology

  • How can we use structural geology to understand drainage networks
  • How can structural geology be applied to the study of glacial/crustal rebound?
  • How can structural geology be applied to the study of marine terraces?
  • How does bedrock structure influence slope stability and mass wasting?
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