Vince/ Course/ IntroStructGeol/ Geo3445-Fall2021.html

Nanga Parbat Gneiss from the Nanga Parbat-Haramosh Massif, northern Pakistan

Nanga Parbat Gneiss -- an augen gneiss from the Nanga Parbat-Haramosh Massif near Chilas, northern Pakistan. Photo by Vince Cronin.

Introductory Structural Geology Home Page

This page functions as the course syllabus, and is not a contract. It is revised frequently throughout the semester.

Reload this page in your browser every time you visit this page to be certain that you are reading the most current course information


Baylor University syllabus statements, fall 2021, are incorporated by reference in this document, and are available for you to download and read HERE

The introductory course in structural geology introduces novice geoscientists to information that is essential to the professional practice of geology and geophysics, whether in academic research or as applied to meet societal need for resources, hazard recognition/mitigation, safe development of buildings and other infrastructure, or public planning/policy. This is an introduction to structural geology, in the same sense that what you see of an iceberg above water is an introduction to the entire iceberg.

Teacher-Contact Information

Teacher: Professor Vince Cronin, Ph.D. , email
Other contact information is available on the course homepage in the Canvas learning management system (LMS).

Ordered List of Course Topics

Approx. Dates Weeks Allocated Topic and Link
to More Information
Textbook Chapter Anticipated dates
for end-of-topic
August 24-26 1 Introduction Fossen [2nd edition] — skim Chapter 1 be announced
August 27-Sept 9 2 Force and stress Fossen [2nd edition] Chapters 4 & 5 Sept 10-11
Sept 10-23 2 Strain Fossen [2nd edition] Chapters 2 & 3 Sept 24-25
Sept 24-Oct 5 1.5 Rheology Fossen [2nd edition] Chapter 6 Oct 6-7
Oct 2-21 1.5 Friction Fossen [2nd edition] Chapter 7 Oct 22-23
Oct 22-26 0.5 Joints and Veins Fossen [2nd edition] Chapter 8 Oct 27-28
Oct 27-Nov 4 1.5 Faults Fossen [2nd edition] Chapter 9 Nov 5-6
Nov 5-16 1.5 Crystal Plasticity
Deformation Mechanisms PDF
Fossen [2nd edition] Chapter 11 be announced
Nov 18-Dec 2 1.5 Folds Fossen [2nd edition] Chapter 12 Dec 3-4
Dec 7 1 Sublime contemplation of the
structure of Earth's crust
Fossen [2nd edition] Chapter ∞ On the final exam


Structural Geology Labs

The draft page associated with the labs for this course is accessible via It will be revised in the coming days.

All labs, quizzes, assignments, and votes for the greatest Blasters single of all time should be submitted before the end of the day Wednesday, December 8, but must be submitted by the end of the day Sunday, December 12.

The final (cumulative) exam is scheduled for December 14 from 2-4 PM.

Primary course textbooks — lecture and lab

The required textbook we will study during this course is by Haakon Fossen, Structural Geology [second edition], published by Cambridge University Press.

If you intend to be a geoscientist, it would make sense to buy and keep this book, and to study all of the sections that we will not have time to consider during this course.

We might occasionally use material from Rick Allmendinger's lab book, Modern Structural Practice (


Members of the Baylor Geosciences Department are expected to know and follow the ethics code of the American Geophysical Union , which is accessible along with other information via the AGU Ethics Portal.


I expect every novice geoscientist to work toward mastery of the material in this course. That involves learning to understand and use geoscience terminology correctly, developing skills (making concept sketches, coding with a computer app like Excel or MatLab or Mathematica or..., being comfortable with basic counting statistics, embracing the assessment of uncertainty, contouring, making cross sections, finding references online, making structural contour maps, interpreting geologic maps, understanding basic GPS positioning technology, use of a Brunton compass, achieving clear written communication, etc.), and building background knowledge about how geological materials deform.

I expect every student in my course to treat every other student and me with respect, to be courteous, and to have an unwavering commitment to the truth. I expect geoscientists to act with integrity in their professional/scientific lives and interpersonal interactions.

Learning the material in this course is your responsibility alone. Through this webpage and its linked/referenced resources, you have plenty of opportunity to access good information about structural geology and related areas of geophysics and engineering. My job is simply to facilitate your learning.

Course grade

After the final exam, the work you have done in this course will be evaluated and a letter grade assigned that reflects the quality of that work. Your work will be considered as a portfolio.

Among the criteria that will be relevant to that grade decision are the following:

  1. Did you seem to stay engaged and participate in the course from beginning to end?
  2. Did you submit every assignment complete and on time?
  3. Was the work you submitted of high quality, both in terms of content and quality of presentation? For example, was your writing/printing clear and carefully done, or did it appear that you had written your submission while holding a dull pencil using the toes on your left foot as you were trying to avoid the swarm of angry fire ants that you had just stepped on? Clear and careful work is not only a necessity for someone else to understand your process and answers, but it is also a sign of respect.
  4. Did you meet expectations for academic, scientific, and personal integrity as manifested in the context of this course?

Some students who are not committed to learning and self development tend to view grades as entitlements, and so they assume they deserve a grade of "A" simply by registering for the course and not doing anything unforgivably bad during the semester. Actually, that qualifies a student for a grade of "F", although perhaps with a notation that they seem to be a nice person.

Earning a passing grade in this core course in structural geology requires your effort. You will need to spend quality time working on this course every day. You will need to master the terminology with a sufficient understanding of the full meaning of each structural-geology term. If you are unwilling to devote that time to the course, you will not do well and will waste your time and money.

A "C" is not an uncommon grade in this course, and a "B" is a good grade. Relatively few grades of "A-" have been assigned by Professor Cronin over the past 3 decades of teaching this course, and the rarely-given grade of "A" means that he believes that the student has mastered the course material.

Dr. Cronin generally affords students the opportunity to provide a self-assessment before he assigns a final course grade.

Some useful resources

Background text files

  1. Some comments on sample standard deviation and confidence intervals: StdDevNotes.pdf
  2. Summary of basic vector math: VectorSummary30Aug2012.pdf
  3. Summary of basic matrix math: Matrices.pdf
  4. Orthogonal coordinate transformations: OrthogonalCoordTrans.pdf
  5. Primer on infinitesimal strain analysis in 1, 2 and 3-D:
  6. Algorithm for the GPS strain calculators (needs updating):
  7. Explanation of Excel GPS strain calculator output
  8. Focal mechanism primer for structural geologists:
  9. Ken McClay's paper on thrust-system terminology (provided by Margaret Dooley)

Computer codes

GPS strain

  1. GPS TriStrain Calculator in Excel:
  2. GPS TriStrain Calculator in Mathematica:
  3. GPS TriStrain Calculator in MatLab (zip file):

Mathematica notebooks (codes)

To download the following Mathematica notebooks, either press CONTROL and click on the link (if you are smart enough to be using a Macintosh microcomputer) or right-click (if you still have to press CONTROL ALT DELETE to start your sad little Windows machine). Either way, you will need to have a copy of the Mathematica language loaded and ready to go on your computer in order to run these notebooks.

  1. Seismo-Lineament Analysis Method (SLAM)
    1. Mathematica notebook "SLAM-code-2017.nb":
    2. Excel spreadsheet "Input_EQ_datafile.xls":
    3. Text (.dat) file "thinDVFZCrop.dat":
  2. Simple counting statistics
    1. Mathematica notebook "SimpleCountingStatistics.nb":
    2. PDF printout of the SimpleCountingStatistics.nb notebook:
    3. Test datafile for the SimpleCountingStatistics.nb example:
  3. Mathematica notebook "Eigen decomposition for 3D stress tensor": EigenDecomposition3D.nb
  4. The FisherStats code that acts upon geovector data (trend and plunge of a vector) is listed in a pdf file ( ) and is available in a Mathematica notebook ( ). A sample dataset is available via .
  5. The FisherStats code that acts upon planar data data (RHR strike and dip angle) is listed in a pdf file ( ) and is available in a Mathematica notebook ( ). A sample dataset is available via .

Excel files

  1. Simple counting statistics:
  2. GPS TriStrain Calculator in Excel

CDF files

To run the following file, you will need to have a copy of the CDF Player from Wolfram:

Presentation files

  1. Presentation file (pdf) about folds FoldsLecture17s.pdf (14.6 MB)
  2. Cascadia GPS strain powerpoint
  3. Basics of triangle strain analysis powerpoint

Pedagogical files

  1. Math prequiz: MathPrequiz.pdf
  2. Worksheet on basic vector math: VectorWorksheet.pdf
  3. PBO GPS worksheet
  4. Cascadia-Wasatch-San Andreas projects
  5. Cascadia-Wasatch-San Andreas student exercises

Animation/visualization files

  1. Information about physical models and related videos:
  2. California Shake-Alert video
  3. Cascadia-Tohoku earthquakes, video 1
  4. Cascadia-Tohoku earthquakes, video 2
  5. Animation-and-video homepage at UNAVCO:
  6. Earthscope's geodetic component -- Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) overview:
  7. GPS Measures Deformation in Subduction Zones: Ocean/continent: or, for direct download,
  8. GPS Measures Deformation in Subduction Zone: Island Arc Setting: or, for direct download,
  9. GPS Records Variable Deformation across a Subduction Zone: or, for direct download,
  10. What can GPS tell us about future earthquakes? or, for a direct download,
  11. Sendai/Tohoku-oki earthquake displacements using 1 Hz data (by Ronni Grapenthin):
  12. GPS as an essential component of Cascadia earthquake early warning: or, for a direct download,
  13. ShakeAlert: Earthquake Early Warning System for Napa earthquake 2014: or, for direct download,
  14. Basin & Range: GPS measures extension: or, for direct download,
  15. Tectonics & Earthquakes of the Himalaya: or, for direct download,
  16. Volcano Monitoring: Measuring Deformation and Tilt with GPS: or, for direct download,
  17. Glaciers are retreating. How can we measure the full ice loss?
  18. Plate tectonics 540Ma to the modern world, from Chris Scotese:
  19. Plate tectonics 240Ma to 250 million years in the future, from Chris Scotese:

Web resources

  1. Online resources for Fossen (2010)
  2. Online declination calculator, maintained by the National Geophysical Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
  3. PBO network map
  4. UNR Magnet and other GPS stations map
  5. "Aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami" Wikipedia article,
  6. Information and data from the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) is available online via
  7. Another way to access PBO data and to see velocity vectors is via the UNAVCO Velocity Viewer ( )
  8. Information about the geodetic reference frames can be found at
  9. Information about UNAVCO is available online via
  10. The full public GPS/GNSS data holdings of UNAVCO are available via their Data Archive Interface Version 2 (
  11. Old structure labs: -->


A must-read article

New York Times Magazine article " Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change " by Nathaniel Rich, with photos and videos by George Steinmetz.

If you have any questions or comments about this site or its contents, drop an email to the humble webmaster .
All of the original content of this website is © 2019 by Vincent S. Cronin