Applications of Structural Geology to Other Disciplines

Only a very small percentage of students in a typical structural geology course will become structural geologists. While most will not become structural geologists, many will someday use structural concepts and techniques to solve problems in other fields. We can help students see the relevance of structural geology as well as better prepare them for future work in geology by integrating problems that have aspects of structural geology, but that come from other disciplines, into our structural geology courses.

Structural geology has a staggering number of applications to solving problems in other disciplines. Structural geology is relevant to problems in mineral exploration and exploitation, petroleum geology, engineering geology, environmental geology, hydrogeology, surficial geology and geomorphology, petrology, geoarchaeology, climate studies, planetary geology, sedimentary geology, tectonics, glaciology, biogeology, and other areas.

Our task is to seek out and stimulate the development of resources that illustrate how the techniques and perspectives of structural geology can be used in solving problems in other disciplines, especially ones such as those listed above that are not traditionally linked to structural geology.

We encourage you to contribute references, articles, maps and other materials that illustrate great examples of applications of structural geology to other disciplines.

View the collection of ideas and articles about applications of structural geology to other disciplines.

We are also seeking examples of activities and assignments that illustrate applications of structural geology to other disciplines and we encourage you to contribute teaching activities and assignments to the Teaching Structural Geology Resource Collections. You may also browse what is currently in the Resource Collection.

The working group is currently developing the following activities for use in structural geology courses

  • a writing assignment asking structural geology students to develop an essay on how structural geology applies to their field of interest and/or areas of geology that they have studied to date (Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College)
  • an exercise on the interaction between newly-developed joints and geomorphology (Brian Dade, Dartmouth College)
  • an advanced exercise applied to petroleum exploration that uses stereonet methods to illustrate borehole data and forward fold modeling (Eric Nelson, Colorado School of Mines)
  • a modeling exercise to study the phenomenon of crustal rebound and isostasy (Kirsten Menking, Vassar College)
  • a cas study on the role of bedrock weaknesses and climate on slope stability in the Virginia Blue Ridge (Zeshan Ismat, Franklin and Marshall College)
  • an exercise on evaluating the groundwater potential of fractured bedrock aquifers (Peter Muller, SUNY Oneonta)
  • an exercise using DEM (digital elevation models) to characterize fracture patterns for groundwater flow patterns (Dick Enright, Bridgewater State College)
  • an exercise illustrating the role of structural geology in archaeological site evaluation (John Dembosky, SUNY Geneseo)
  • a modeling exercise to examine the role of rheology in the flow of glacial ice (Kirsten Menking, Vassar College)
  • a case study of the role of climate in the evolution of structures (Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College)
  • an exercise using remote sensing to study structural controls of karst development (Dick Enright, Bridgewater State College)
  • an exercise on determining of the 3D geometry of a contaminant plume (Otto Muller, Alfred University)
  • an exercise illustrating the influence of strain history on mineral paragenesis in ore deposits and usefulness in mineral exploration (Jim Welsh, Gustavus Adolphus College)
  • a case study of the role of structural geology in evaluation of Yucca Mountain (John Dembosky, SUNY Geneseo)
  • examples of uses of stereonets in disciplines other than structural geology (Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College)

Want to join our working group?

Send an e-mail to Barbara Tewksbury at Hamilton College (