My area of interest and expertise is field oriented structural geology, with emphasis on the study of faults, folds, shear zones, and fracture systems within mountain belts and plateau provinces. I am also vitally interested in the formation of geologic structures today in the context of active plate tectonics.
My main regions of inquiry have been the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range tectonic provinces of the American Southwest. Throughout my career I have found it useful to work at the interface of structural geology and regional tectonics, both in the formulation of problems, and in creating the research strategies. This has been true of the work I have done and am doing on metamorphic core complexes and detachment faults, as well as investigations on the Colorado Plateau.
Like so many other colleagues, I find that research is inseparable from teaching. Part of the extension of my teaching is the textbook Structural Geology of Rocks and Regions, published by John Wiley and Sons. First edition was 1984. Second edition, with Steve Reynolds, was 1996. Third edition, with Steve Reynolds and the late Chuck Kluth, was 2012. The 3rd edition closes with the concept of evaluating active tectonic settings as ‘natural laboratories’ in which geologic structures are forming ‘before our very eyes’ and under conditions that are measureable. Historically active tectonic settings have been examined for insight into plate tectonics, regional tectonics, and hazards. Yet, there are abundant opportunities for extracting nitty-gritty ‘structural geological’ insights from actively deforming regions.