Integrating geophysics and Earthscope into structural geology courses


Geophysical data are vital for structural geologists to characterize the geometry and physical properties of subsurface rocks and structures, and are fundamental to understanding active tectonics. This working group seeks to develop activities and resources for integrating geophysics and the EarthScope data stream into the structural geology curriculum. Two objectives of this effort are (1) to broaden the exposure of our students to problems within the geosciences, building a foundation for integrative science for the next generation of geoscience leaders, and (2) to convey basic concepts of structural geology using powerful tools afforded by geophysical methods.

We are building a collection of activities and exercises that are currently used in courses, identifying gaps in the collection, and creating new activities and exercises to fill those gaps. Resources that can enhance structural geology courses include lab and lecture activities, demonstrations including QuickTime video clips and QTVR animations, and exercises that involve the collection or interpretation of primary geophysical data that can be utilized by non-geophysicists. A preliminary list of geophysical topics that are most relevant to structural geology is posted below.

Rather than just posting lists of web links, we encourage submission of resources and well-constructed exercises that can augment the canon of topics covered in structural geology courses. Our intent is that the next generation of structural geologists will be as comfortable working with a broad range of geophysical data as they are working with maps and compasses. We also plan to develop innovative approaches for integrating Earthscope into the undergraduate structure coursework including hands-on collaborative research opportunities, field experiences, and authentic exercises and projects that utilize the Earthscope data stream.

Please share your best exercises by contributing to this growing resource collection at The resources will be fully searchable through the Digital Library of Earth System Education (

Working group charge

  • Seek out and collect exiting exemplary resources from workshop participants and colleagues who do not attend the workshop and make sure that they are added to the on-line Teaching and Structural Geology Resource Collections.
  • Establish and carry out a strategy for testing and reviewing on-line materials
  • Decide what the working group wants to accomplish beyond collecting and evaluating existing resources.
  • Plan and carry out a post-workshop strategy for collecting additional existing resources and developing new ones. Assign specific tasks to working group members.

Initial participants in our working group*

  • Vince Cronin, Baylor University (working group leader)
  • Cameron Davidson, Carleton College
  • James Harris, Millsaps College
  • Jon Lewis, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Beth Rinard, Tarleton State University
  • Colin Shaw, University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire
*Would you like to join our working group? Drop an email to Vince Cronin ( and let us know that you are ready to contribute to our merry band!

Preliminary list of geophysics topics relevant to introductory structural geology

  • Earthquake seismology -- focal mechanism solutions, etc. Coordinators: Jon Lewis and Vince Cronin
  • Reflection seismology -- QT clips on data collection; animation of wave reflection; sample lines, raw and interpreted; exercises. Coordinators: James Harris, Colin Shaw, Vince Cronin
  • Refraction seismology -- QT clips on data collection; animation of wave reflection; sample lines, raw and interpreted; exercises. Coordinator: James Harris
  • Determination of elastic moduli. Coordinator: James Harris
  • Finding magnetic declination at a given location using the NOAA global magnetic field model website. Coordinator: Vince Cronin
  • Discovering plate boundaries. Coordinator: Colin Shaw
  • Paleomagnetism: QT clips on data collection; exercises using real data concerning the rotation of the Transverse Ranges, California. Coordinator: Vince Cronin
  • Gravity over a fault: QT clips on data collection; exercise drawn from gravity line over Waukesha fault, Wisconsin. Coordinator: Vince Cronin
  • Using earthquake mainshock-aftershock sequence to "map" a fault patch. Coordinator: Beth Rinard
  • Azimuthal resistivity for defining joint/fracture trends in the near-subsurface. Coordinator: Beth Rinard
  • Geodesy: QT clips on use of high-end GPS; manipulating location vectors and displacement vectors. Coordinators: Jon Lewis
  • Ground penetrating radar. Coordinator: Colin Shaw
  • Experimental rock deformation -- QT clips of experiments; animation of what happens in a pressure vessel during experiment; exercises with real data. Coordinator: Vince Cronin
  • In-situ stress -- methods for determination (animations); exercises based on World Stress Map website. Coordinators: (none yet)
  • Applications of magnetics (potential field investigations): QT clips on data collection; exercises using real data over a structure-generated anomaly. Coordinators: (none yet)
  • Remote sensing applications. Coordinators: (none yet)
  • Guided inquiry into the strength of the lower crust. Coordinators: (none yet)
  • Heat flow: QT clips on data collection; exercises with real data. Coordinators: (none yet)
  • Electrical methods: induced potential, resistivity, etc.. Coordinators: (none yet)
  • Local and global seismic tomography; whole-Earth structure. Coordinators: (none yet)