My current projects focus on the recovery of high-resolution deformation rates from folds and faults.  These data serve to inform our evolving ideas on what modulates rates of deformation.  We continue to explore the roll surface processes play in localizing deformation and varying deformation rates as well as other internal controls such as mechanical or geometric strength changes.  The research is typically empirical and occurs in both active and ancient orogens.  Recent projects have been in the Apennirnes, Italy, Pyrenees, Spain, Betic Cordillera, Spain, and U.S. Rockies.  Some projects involve paleomagnetic and cyclostratigraphic age models, others involve landscape evolution or structural modeling.  Current students are working on kinematics and rates of fault-related folding recorded by growth strata in the Pyrenees. I lead an international group working on tectonics and landscape evolution in the Betic Cordillera, Spain. I am also involved in science curriculum development projects focusing on tectonics, climate change, and energy.

EES Research in Active Tectonics

EES has a group of eight faculty (Meltzer–seismology, Zeitler-thermochronology, Kodama-rock and paleomagnetism, Bebout-metamorphic petrology, Anastasio-structural geology, Ramage-remote sensing, Sahagian-volcanology, Pazzaglia-tectonic geomorphology) who conduct research on the crustal processes that build mountains, the surficial processes that tear them down by erosion, and the stratigraphy that archives these processes and Earth history.  This research is being conducted along plate boundary and intraplate settings of China, Tibet, Mongolia, Spain, Italy, and the U.S. in mountains that harbor numerous natural hazards, among them great earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. EES has deep expertise in petrology, the study of biogeochemical cycling at plate boundaries; seismology, the passive and active source documentation of crustal structure; tectonics, the characterization of the processes and rates driving crustal deformation; structural geology, the field characterization of deformation kinematics; and geomorphology, the long-time scale documentation of landscape change in response to tectonics.  We have recently incorporated InSAR remote sensing capability document real-time crustal deformation using satellite-derived imagery.  We have complementary capabilities to instrument and monitor regions for long-term data characterization of active tectonic and geomorphic processes.


Kinematics of faulting and folding recorded by growth strata in the Pyrenees.
Location: Sos del Rey Catalogo
Collaborators: Josep Pares, Ken Kodama, Allison Teletzke
Location: Sant Llorenç de Morunys
Collaborators: Josep Pares, James Carrigan, Marisa Repasch
Location: External Sierras
Collaborators: Ken Kodama, Josep Pares, Linda Hinnov

Tectonics and landscape evolution in the Betic Cordillera, Spain.
Location: Andalucia
Collaborators: Claudio Berti, Gilles Brocard, Josep Pares

Web-GIS Curriculum development projects; tectonics, climate change, and energy. 
Location: Lehigh University
Collaborators: Alec Bodzin, Dork Sahagian, Scott Rutzmoser, Raghida Shariff

Recent Results

Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) records synsedimentary deformation kinematics at Pico del Aguila anticline, Pyrenees, Spain

In Palaeomagnetism in Fold and Thrust Belts: New Perspectives. Special Volume 425 Geological Society of London. Emilio L. Pueyo, Francesca Cifelli, Aviva J. Sussman and Belen Oliva-Urcia, Editors. http//

Pico del Aguila anticline is a transverse décollement fold located at the Pyrenean thrust front. The anticline is a synsedimentary structure buried during growth by delta front mudstones and sands of the Eocene Arguis and Belsue´-Atares formations. Both the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility measured at 77 K and 294 K and the anisotropy of anhysteretic remanence show that susceptibility is dominated by paramagnetic clay minerals and can be used as a proxy for depositional and tectonic fabric orientations. In general, the maximum and intermediate principal susceptibilities (k1 and k2) of the AMS lie in bedding and the minimum principal susceptibility (k3) is oriented nearly normal to bedding. Layer-parallel shortening (LPS) produced a c. north–southtrending magnetic intersection lineation in bedding on anticline limbs and in the adjacent Belsue´ and Arguis synclines by deforming the depositional and diagenetic compaction fabric. The degree of magnetic anisotropy is higher along axial surfaces than on limbs. At the anticline hinge, oblate magnetic ellipsoids with an east–west-aligned lineation and a bedding-parallel magnetic foliation demonstrate the overprinting of the LPS magnetic fabric during the emplacement of the underlying thrust sheet. AMS data record fold kinematics characterized by constant-length limb rotation about pinned hinges and are compatible with kinematics recorded by growth strata geometries. This study emphasizes that AMS is a very sensitive measure of depositional, compaction and tectonic fabrics in marine clastic rocks in the diagenetic realm.


Incremental Folding Rates Determined With 104-5 Year Time Resolutions Along The Pyrenean Thrust Front, Spain

American Geophysical Union 2015 Fall Meeting


High-resolution rock magnetic cyclostratigraphy in growth strata are used to reconstruct unsteady fault-related folding rates at the regional Pico del Aguila anticline. Published and new magnetobiostratigraphy was used to determine absolute time and to calibrate a cyclostratigraphy based on anhysteretic remanent magnetization (ARM) intensity variations. The ARM data series was tuned to the orbital eccentricity model to remove the effects of sedimentary rate changes between late Lutetian-middle Priabonian chron boundaries (C19-C15) during syntectonic deposition. Sediment accumulation rates increased up section to 1.15 m/kyr during delta progradation with large oscillations in sedimentation rate in phase with eccentricity cyclicity. The ARM data was a proxy for climate change by recording Milankovitch cyclicity in the inorganic detrital magnetite concentration of deposits resulting from runoff variability in the wedge-top basin. Incremental tilting rates were calculated between selected growth horizons over 5 myrs of fold growth. The Eocene age limb tilt began rapidly then decreased more slowly at variable rates that were punctuated by periods of tectonic quiescence. Calculated folding rates varied between 0° and 100 °/myrs and averaged 14 °/myr over 100 kyr time increments. Accuracy and precision in the rate calculations include spatial errors associated with outcrop reconstruction and down plunge projection (<10 m and 104 yrs), bedding attitude (few °), absolute chron ages (105 yrs), sample spacing (103 yrs), sample size (102 yrs), and orbital tuning (104 yrs). The absolute age resolution on deformation is a few 100 kyrs while the uncertainties in the relative time between growth horizons is less and estimated at ~20 kyrs. Variation in folding rates of the Pico del Aguila anticline is attributed to unsteady thrusting in the fold’s core.



Fault Propagation Fold Kinematics Recovered From Terrestrial Growth Strata With 20 Kyr Time Resolution, Sant Llorenç De Morunys, Pyrenees, Spain

2015 Geological Society of America National Meeting


The Eocene-Oligocene synorogenic Berga Conglomerates were used to recover folding rates along the Spanish Pyrenees mountain front. The Berga Group consists of coarse alluvial fan and fluvial growth deposits that record the evolution of the Paleogene mountain front. The unit was sampled for cyclostratigraphy, rock magnetics, and anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS). In addition a regional magnetostratigraphy was developed along a 1.8 km section and compared to the geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS2012) to provide an absolute time scale. Analysis of rock magnetic experiments indicate a mixed magnetic mineralogy where paramagnetic clays are dominant in controlling magnetic susceptibility (χ) variations. AMS data is consistent with a pinned synclinal hinge during fault-propagation folding. The syncline formed as a result of fault propagation folding driven by blind thrust faulting. The geometry of progressive and angular unconformities in the growth strata are reproduced during trishear forward modelling. AMS data also records compaction and N-S layer-parallel-shortening fabrics >10 km south of the deformation front. The regional magnetostratigraphy was used to calibrate the χ cyclostratigraphy to recover significant Milankovitch cyclicity (e.g. >90% significance at 41 kyr) using spectral analysis. Significant cycles were recovered at intervals which are attributed to Earth’s obliquity and precession indexes. Unsteadiness in deformation and sediment accumulation rates with 104 yr time resolution ranges from folding rates of 0-100 °/Myr during sediment accumulation varying from 100-371 m/Myr. Changes in deformation and sediment accumulation rates are not correlated suggesting sediment loading of the foreland basin was not a driver of deformation.


Designing Online Science Teaching and Learning Environments

Association for Science Teacher Education 2016 Meeting

Online learning for K-16 students is of increasing importance to science teacher education as instructional technology continues to play an important role in the development of digital content and learning tools that can be used by science teachers. More teachers and students are participating in science learning experiences with online curriculum than ever before.  Online teaching and learning environments can be designed to provide unique digital content and tools to promote science learning. This paper set includes three recent initiatives for designing online science teaching and learning environments.  The papers present descriptions of the curriculum approaches and key design principles used to promote science teaching and learning.  Two papers focus on science teaching and learning without any face-to-face interactions and one paper presents a hybrid learning environment implementation.  The first paper describes an online secondary biological science curriculum designed for students to practice evidentiary reasoning skills.  The second paper presents an asynchronous chemistry module designed to promote knowledge integration.  The third paper presents a hybrid approach for implementing an online plate tectonics investigation designed to promote geospatial thinking with Web GIS.  Findings from implementation studies are presented.  Implications for the professional development of science teachers will be discussed.



A Curriculum-linked Professional Development Approach to Support Teachers’ Adoption of Web GIS Tectonics Investigations

Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, Special Issue-Geospatial


A curriculum-linked professional development approach designed to support middle level science teachers’ understandings about tectonics and geospatial pedagogical content knowledge was developed.  This approach takes into account limited face-to-face professional development time and instead provides pedagogical support within the design of a Web-based curriculum with extensive teacher support materials.  This paper illustrates how curriculum design can provide teachers with supports for content (e.g. tectonics) and geospatial instruction with Web GIS. The effectiveness of the approach is presented with a focus on how the curriculum implementation of the Web GIS tectonics investigations and the curriculum support materials provided teachers with the professional growth required for successful curriculum implementation.


Using Web GIS to Promote Geospatial Thinking and Reasoning Skills

Chapter 11 in Application of Web GIS in K-16 Science Classrooms 2015 Information Age Publishing
Geospatial thinking, a subset of spatial thinking, is a skill that necessitates knowledge about space, the ability to use tools of representation properly, and reasoning skills (National Research Council [NRC] 2006). Geospatial reasoning involves problem solving that is connected to data referenced to the Earth's surface or to the Earth's representation through maps (Huynh & Sharpe, 2013). One effective method for teaching geospatial thinking and reasoning (GTR) is through geospatially enabled learning technolo-gies, such as geographic information systems (GIS) or other tools that have the capacity to display dynamic maps, globes, and other representations of the Earth (Bodzin, 2011). Geospatially enabled learning technologies may enhance science curriculum learning by adding an emphasis on geograph-ic space, visualization, scale, and representation. While these technologies show promise to support the development of GTR, the NRC (2006) report Learning to Think Spatially: GIS as a Support System in the K-12 curriculum, pointed out that we still lack specific knowledge of what kinds of geospatial learning experiences lead to student improvement, how to infuse geospa-tial thinking in the science curriculum, and how best to use geospatially enabled learning technologies with classroom learners. To address these issues, our Environmental Literacy and Inquiry group at Lehigh University has worked in partnership with a local area urban school district, and has developed, (1) an 8-week geospatial technologies-integrated energy resources middle level curriculum unit rich in Web GIS investiga-tions; and (2) a series of Web GIS tectonics investigations designed to en-hance a typical Earth science curriculum. In this chapter, Web GIS as a visual instructional technology to support GTR is described. We present a Web GIS curriculum approach for promoting GTR and highlight our Web GIS energy resources and tectonics curriculum materials and illustrate how they are de-signed to enhance both Earth science understandings and GTR skills. 

Geospatial Thinking And Reasoning Enhanced In A Structural Geology And Tectonics Course Using Web Gis

2015 Geological Society of America National Meeting

Learning technologies combined with well-designed curricula can facilitate the interpretation and manipulation of spatially referenced data improving student’s spatial reasoning skills and associated higher-order cognitive processes. “TILT”, Tectonics Inquiry Learning Tool, integrates geological and geophysical data sets and requires learners to reconstruct ancient plate motions within a Web GIS learning environment. The learning activities promote inquiry-based learning and geospatial thinking. Authentic marine and terrestrial data layers include topography, bathymetry, sediment cores, magnetic anomalies, earthquakes, and geology that can be dynamically explored. In a Lehigh University classroom student learning was guided by direct contact hours with real-time instructor feedback, instructional handout, lessons to interpret data, and video tutorials that promoted creative assignment completion. Personalized login allowed students to retain work during an implementation study that consisted of 12 undergraduate students assessed with a criterion-based rubric (inter-rater reliability = 0.93) on a series of Web GIS screenshot artifacts of modern plate boundaries, the age of the ocean, and several ancient continental reconstructions. For each artifact, students were required to support decision-making and reasoning with a supporting text. Classroom observations and a post-implementation survey were completed. Students performed remarkably well on the assignment and no student scored less than proficient in any rubric criteria. The results from the student survey data were especially positive. Ninety-one percent of students found the Web GIS investigation to be engaging and 64% percent stated they would prefer more labs in this style. When asked if they believed that the Web GIS investigation enhanced what they typically did when learning about tectonics, all but one student responded “yes”. Compared to prior years when a paper-based exercise produced results of a lower quality, students completed the TILT investigation much faster and were less restricted in choosing the learning path that suited them. We believe this led to higher and more consistent levels of learning. The Web GIS and exercises are freely available at (

Structural Geology Laboratory Room 225 STEPS Building

450 ft2 laboratory space with…..

  • Specimen cabinets and map cases for physical collections, rocks and maps.
  • Olympus BH2 microscope and photomicrographic system and Fisher Mark XII projection microscope, both interfaced to microcomputer and digitizing tablets for fabric analysis
  • 5-axis Leitz universal stage for petrofabric analysis
  • MAAS ELM/3 Luminoscope attached to a Leitz petrographic microscope to image grain scale mass transfer.
  • 70 centimer X analog defermation table
  • Desktop computers and peripherals for data management, analysis, presentation graphics, and manuscript preparation. Both automatic onsite and offsite backup devices ensure data integrity.
  • Software includes ArcGIS, and MOVE, for data management, plus a full suite of word processing, drafting, time-frequency, and statistical software for data analysis.

    Lehigh University Dan Anastasio - Laboratory

© IMRC CAS 2016