Department of Earth SciencesWestern Science

Tectonic Processes and Crustal Dynamics

Research in Tectonic Processes and Crustal Dynamics focuses on integrating field investigations, laboratory analysis, and computational modeling to tackle the problem of deformation and change in the continental lithosphere on time scales ranging from short-term earthquake events to long-term tectonic deformation processes, and for spatial scales ranging from microstructures, visible under electronic microscopes, to the tectonic, continental scales.

Primary faculty: Atkinson, Jiang, Molnar, Shcherbakov, and Tiampo

Earthquake Hazards and Ground Motions

Dr. Gail Atkinson (Research Webpage)

Gail Atkinson faults

Dr. Atkinson’s research group examines earthquake hazards and ground motions, focusing on both natural and induced events throughout North America. Her Engineering Seismology Toolbox Laboratory hosts seismic data analysis hardware and software and the laboratory website, The group interacts frequently with earthquake engineers, working towards the common goal of assessing and mitigating earthquake hazards and risk.

Dr. Atkinson is the NSERC/TransAlta/Nanometrics Industrial Research Chair in Hazards from Induced Seismicity, and leads a multi-institutional collaborative research group that is investigating induced-seismicity processes in western Canada. She also leads development of real-time seismic hazard assessment and management tools, for both natural and induced seismicity. Dr. Atkinson’s current research projects include: the assessment of seismic hazards and site response; comparative studies of ground motions in different environments; development of ground-motion prediction equations; real-time ground-motion processing and hazard assessment; methods of developing earthquake time histories for use in engineering analyses; and investigation of induced seismicity, using a new regional monitoring network in Alberta.


Laboratory for Deformation Structures

Dr. Dazhi Jiang (Research Webpage)

We use deformation structures and fabrics preserved in rocks to unravel the tectonic evolution of orogenic belts and to constrain the long-term rheology of the continental crust. Field mapping of critical areas are combined with laboratory microstructural analysis and numerical modeling to understand the kinematics and mechanics of natural rock deformation. The Laboratory is equipped with the latest, top-end equipment for this integrated research endeavour including: