3 credits - Fall 2019 - Thursdays 3:00-4:30 and Fridays 1:00-2:30 in FDA 232

SKIP TO: Evaluation --- Instructions for leading discussion --- Schedule --- Morin Shear Zone Field Trip --- Fort Foster Field Trip --- Methods Talks List --- Research Projects Topics List


Christie Rowe (christie.rowe[at]mcgill.ca, Office: FDA 402)

Course Overview

The rheology of the crust is important on all time and length scales - from the motion of tectonic plates, to the flow of soils, for engineering applications and for hazard estimation. This course will cover a broad range of topics in a mostly qualitative survey, with an emphasis on interpreting past deformation from the rock record.

Thursday meeting will be a discussion session focused around 1-2 journal articles, with discussions run by students. Friday meetings will be lectures or student presentations on practical applications and methods, collaborating and presentations of project results.

The course includes field trips (October 11-15 to the Norumbega Shear Zone, Maine and October 8 to the Morin Shear Zone, Quebec, along with EPSC303). The field trip(s) are not mandatory but will contribute substantially to student learning. Data collected on both field trips will form the basis of class projects.

Pre-requisites: structural geology. Background in tectonics, metamorphic geology, and geophysics would be useful.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students should be conversent with the literature on present-day observations of deformation in both continental and oceanic crust, grain and sub-grain scale deformation mechanisms which produce large-scale deformation of the Earth's surface, and the rheologies that describe the bulk behavior.

Students will be able to identify and describe rock fabrics that form during deformation and able to relate these fabrics to pressure and temperature conditions, and therefore, to tectonic context and depth in the Earth where deformation occurred.

Instructional Method

Instruction will be by lecturing, reading, discussing, leading discussions, teaching, sharing, viewing deformed rocks, and arguing.

Required course materials

All reading will be journal articles and publications distributed digitally by email and/or available directly from the university library.
McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/ for more information).

McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.


10% 1 page + figures for field trip handout
10% Wikipedia Editing
25% Reading Seminar (meets weekly)
Discussion leader will provide 2 page handout (including figures)
10% Participation when others are leading
15% Leading discussion and 2 pg paper summary
20% Give a lesson:
Teach the other students about some research method of your choice. This could be a technique you use in your own research, or something you have never done but would like to learn. You can demonstrate the method, teach a lesson, or give a lecture about it illustrated with examples. You will have 30 minutes for this lesson.
35% Individual Research Project could involve microstructural studies, analytical studies, or modeling. Data and samples collected on the class field trip may be used for the project. 20% Paper Template here
If you are a LaTeX user, download the whole contents of this folder. If not, just download the pdf and use as a guideline.
5% Peer reviews written for other students
10% Presentation (20 minutes)

Content and Readings

Instructions for Paper Presentation Summary

Each Thursday, one student will lead the discussion of a journal article and provide a short summary handout. The handout should be equivalent of 1-2 pages of text, with figures as needed. The summary handout should include: Here are some interesting "supporting information" ideas:

Presenting and Leading Discussion

Participating / attending the discussion

How this will be marked

The course mark includes 15% for leading the paper discussion once, and 10% for participation. Participation is always a very subjective mark, but if you are actively engaged in discussions and occasionally (more than one week) contribute insightful comments or questions then I will consider your participation very good. For presenters, the details of your summary and the discussion will vary a lot depending on the paper and how the class responds. If you follow the spirit of the guidelines here (not everything to the letter) then I will consider your performance very good.

Schedule and Presenters

Week Date Topic Reading Discussion Leader Due Dates / Goals
1 Thurs Sept 5 Course intro/planning Set up presentation schedule Christie Settle on final schedule, future assignments
Fri Sept 6 Introduction of Wikipedia Project Christie
2 Thurs Sept 12 Effects of Crustal Rheology Ranalli, 2000, Rheology of the crust and its role in tectonic reactivation. Journal of Geodynamics v. 30, 3-15. Christie Students report back on Wikipedia Plans
Fri Sept 13 Methods talks (2 x 20 min + discussion) Arvid - EBSD basic theory, EBSD techniques and a case study
Visit to SEM
3 Thurs Sept 19 State of Research in Tectonics/Deformation Huntington et al. (2017), Challenges and Opportunities for Research in Tectonics: Understanding deformation and the processes that link Earth systems, from geologic time to human time. A community vision document submitted to the U.S. National Science Foundation. University of Washington. Chapters 2 and 3 Only. Arvid
4 Thurs Sept 26 Very hot rocks Zhou et al. (2017) An experimental study on creep of partially molten granulite under high temperature and wet conditions Journal of Asian Earth Sciences v. 139, 15-29 Jenna
5 Thurs Oct 3 Shear Zones Fossen and Cavalcante (2017) Shear zones -- a review Earth-Science Reviews v. 171, 434-455 Hervé
Fri Oct 4 Methods talks (2 x 20 min + discussion) Jenna - InSAR
Look at some hand samples of High Strain Rocks
6 Tues Oct 8 Morin Shear Zone Field Trip with Jamie Kirkpatrick and EPSC303 See List Below
Thurs Oct 10 Fort Foster Brittle Zone Swanson (2006) Pseudotachylyte-bearing strike-slip faults in mylonitic host rocks, Fort Foster Brittle Zone, Kittery, Maine. in: Abercrombie et al. (eds), Earthquakes: Radiated Energy and the Physics of Faulting. AGU Monograph 170 p. 167-179 Maggie
Fri Oct 11 Depart for Maine 8 am
7 Thurs Oct 17 Fault Architecture, Damage zones, Networks Everyone Read: Caine, Evans, and Forster, 1996 Fault zone architecture and permeability structure Geology v. 24 n. 11 1025-1028 and Rowe et al. 2013 The thickness of subduction plate boundary faults from the seafloor into the seismogenic zone. Geology v 41 n 9 991-994
Fri Oct 18 Methods talks (2 x 20 min + discussion) Using Remote Sensing and Geodesy for deformation studies - Meghomita Das
Moses - Subdividing and mapping highly deformed rocks
8 Thurs Oct 24 Brittle-Ductile Transition Everyone read: Sibson, 1986, Earthquakes and rock deformation in crustal fault zones. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences v. 14 n. 1 149-175
Presenter: Scholz, 1988, The brittle-plastic transition and the depth of seismic faulting. Geologisch Rundschau v. 77 n. 1 319-328
9 Thurs Oct 31 Temperature Structure of Continents Everyone read: Hyndman et al. (2009) Temperature control of continental lithosphere elastic thickness, Te vs. Vs. Earth and Planetary Science Letters v. 227, n. 3-4, 539-548
Presenter: van Hunen and Moyen (2012) Archean subduction: fact or fiction? Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences v. 40 195-219
10 Thurs Nov 7 Fault Architecture, Damage zones, Networks Everyone Read: Caine, Evans, and Forster, 1996 Fault zone architecture and permeability structure Geology v. 24 n. 11 1025-1028 and Rowe et al. 2013 The thickness of subduction plate boundary faults from the seafloor into the seismogenic zone. Geology v 41 n 9 991-994
Presenter: Savage and Brodsky (2011) Collateral damage: Evolution with displacement of fracture distribution and secondary fault strands in fault damage zones. Journal of Geophysical Research v. 116 B3
Fri Nov 8 Methods talks (3 x 20 min + discussion) Hervé - Borehole instrumentation
Brindley - Earthquakes for earth structure
Tim - LiDAR
11 Thurs Nov 14 Alejandro - fractured rock in geothermal reservoirs
Fri Nov 15 Methods talks (2 x 20 min + discussion) Dana - shear box or roughness
Maggie - paleomag
Alexandre - zircon dating
12 Thurs Nov 21
Fri Nov 22 Methods talks (2 x 20 min + discussion) Benoit
Inga - Kinematic restoration using MOVE
13 Thurs Nov 28 PROJECT PRESENTATIONS Meghomita

Field Trip Information

Morin Shear Zone

Norumbega Shear Zone

Methods Talks Topics

Instructions: Choose any method that is used by anyone in the study of Earth deformation and/or tectonics. Give a presentation of approximately 30 minutes that will introduce a complete novice to the method. You should include the basic theory of how the method works, some examples and applications, and also a critical discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the method.

Some ideas for Methods Talks

Wikipedia Pages Assignments

Research Projects