An Introduction to Structural Geology and Tectonics

EarthStructure is concerned with the deformation of rocks in the Earth's lithosphere. It integrates topics concerning deformation at all scales of observation, and emphasizes the linkages between structural geology and tectonics.  We (see below) developed this book for the student who is taking a first course in structural geology and tectonics.  Typically, such students do not have a lot of geologic experience under their belts. We have tried, therefore, to provide sufficient background for topics to make them comprehensible, but not to overwhelm the new student and obscure the sense of excitement about the subject felt by seasoned geologists. Rather than peppering the text with extensive referencing and encyclopedic discussion, we often present perspectives on a subject. This encourages a critical attitude in the reader and offers the instructor a platform for further discussion.

Our personal approach to teaching structural geology and tectonics is reflected in a conversational writing style. Where possible, we make use of familiar analogs [rubber bands, syrup, cars], and illustrations are kept relatively simple. In order to provide instructors with optimal freedom to develop a course outline of their own choosing, most chapters are self-contained modules that can be arranged in various sequences. At the end, we include a series of essays on regional geology that are written by researchers to give a sense of the use of geologic information in tectonic analysis.

Instructors work hard to make their lectures comprehensive yet comprehensible, correct yet enjoyable. We have tried to do the same with this book.

December 1996
Ben van der Pluijm and Stephen Marshak

About the authors
Ben van der Pluijm received his first geology training at the University of Leiden (later Utrecht) in the Netherlands, where he obtained an M.Sc. on fieldwork in northern Spain (Cantabria) and microstructural study of phyllosilicates and calcite. He jumped the Atlantic for dissertation work at the University of New Brunswick (Canada) where, working along the rocky shores of the Newfoundland Appalachians, he learned to appreciate tectonics.  In 1985, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, where he works on field and laboratory structure/tectonics projects in low- and high-grade rocks, involving a variety of toys (eh, techniques).  Ben is also involved in several educational initiatives, including an interdisciplinary, web-based Global Change curriculum.  Ben serves on several editorial boards and is currently Editor of GEOLOGY.  Like so many geologists, Ben became interested in geology for its ‘outdoor charm’, but especially for its unique interplay of science disciplines. He is married to Lies, and they have two boys, Wouter and Robbie.
Stephen Marshak became interested in geology while an undergraduate at Cornell University. He moved to the University of Arizona for his master's degree and then to the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University for his Ph.D.  Steve began teaching structure and tectonics at the University of Illinois in 1983, where his research interests include fold-thrust belts, Precambrian geology and continental-interior tectonics. Steve serves on several editorial boards and is active in national committees.  Over the years, he's worked on field problems in the U.S., Brazil, North Africa, Italy, Australia and Antarctica. Steve's wife Kathy, and their two children, David and Emma, delight in the travel opportunities.

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Copyright © Ben A. van der Pluijm and Stephen Marshak, 1997-1999