Vince/ Course/ IntroStructGeol/

Igneous contact at Salisbury Crags in Scotland, where James Hutton correctly interpreted the relationship between the igneous rock and the sedimentary rock.

Igneous contact at Salisbury Crags in Scotland, where James Hutton correctly interpreted the relationship between the igneous rock (dolerite) and the sedimentary rock. This area of the crags is called Hutton's Section. Photo by Vince Cronin.

Release form for photos and videos related to geoscience research or education:

Introductory Structural Geology Home Page

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.

Revised 25 August 2019

Basics for Fall 2019

Lecture section: MWF 11:15 AM - 12:05 PM, required lab: Tues 2:00-4:45 PM, all meetings in BSB E-414 The first lecture is August 26, and the first lab is August 27.

Teacher: Professor Vince Cronin, Ph.D., email
Office: BSB E-441, phone (254) 710-2174 (no messages)
Office hours: around 10-11 AM, MWF, or by appointment

Primary course textbooks — lecture and lab

The required online textbook we will study during this course is by Ben van der Pluijm and Steve Marshak, Processes in Structural Geology and Tectonics (

You might choose to acquire a paper copy of a good introductory-structure textbook. (I prefer paper to electrons, but use both.) If so, good options include the intro-struct textbook by Van Der Pluijm and Marshak (2nd ed., 2004), Fossen (2nd ed., 2016), Davis and others (3rd ed., 2011), or Twiss and Moores (2nd ed., 2007)

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

If you intend to be a geoscientist, it would make sense to buy and keep a paper copy of a good structural geology textbook, because structural geology is a very broad, important, and fundamental part of geoscience.

Structure Laboratory

The laboratory section of Geo 3445 is required, and you must attend all of its meetings. Any student who does not attend at least 75% of the laboratory sessions will automatically fail the entire course.

Additional information about the lab section is available through the structure-lab homepage at


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. For additional information, you can start at the Baylor Geoscience Department's ethics page, peruse my draft geoethics page for geoscience departments or the resource page associated with my keynote presentation about geoethics at the 2018 Resources for Future Generations meeting.


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

In early December, 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 attend every lecture and lab session? If you did not attend at least 75% of the lecture meetings or 75% of the lab meetings, you will automatically fail the course.

2. Did you submit every homework and 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 attending class, smiling at their teacher's occasional attempts at humor, and not causing any trouble. 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 a couple of hours in study for every hour you spend in class, and 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.

Students are typically afforded the opportunity to provide a self-assessment prior to the assigning of a course grade.

Scheduling matters

There will be no lab session on Tuesday, November 20, prior to Thanksgiving. Otherwise, consult the lab-section homepage ( for scheduling information about the lab.

Approximate Lecture Schedule

This schedule is tentative. Neither the schedule nor the syllabus constitutes a contract between Dr. Cronin and students.

In general, we will devote the lecture meetings to material covered in the online textbook, taken in the order presented beginning with chapter 2. Lab topics are listed on the structure-lab homepage.

In addition to the university holidays this semester (Labor Day Sept 2, Fall Break Oct 25, Thanksgiving Nov 27-29), Dr. Cronin will be out-of-town thr following times

DatesLecturesTopicRequired Prior Studying
in e-Textbook
Un Petit Quiz
August 251Introductionchapter 1
etext p. 11-40 (skim)
August 26-Sept 95Force and stresschapter 2
etext p. 41-60
Sept 11
Sept 11-163The frictional regimechapter 3
etext p. 61-87
Sept 18
Sept 18-273Joints and veinschapter 4
etext p. 89-107
Sept 30
Sept 30-Oct 144Faultschapter 5
etext p. 109-135
Oct 16
Oct 16(1)Pyramid quiz 1chapters 2-5
etext p. 41-135
Nov 1-114Deformation and strainchapter 6
etext p. 137-160
Nov 13
Nov 13-204The plastic regimechapter 7
etext p. 161-188
Nov 31
Nov 31-Dec 44Foldschapter 8
etext p. 189-220
on pyramid quiz
Dec 61Pyramid quiz 2chapters 6-8
etext p. 137-220

The last class day of this course will be Friday, December 6, by which time all assignments must have been submitted.

There is no final exam this semester in this course. Send your letters of thanks to the American Geophysical Union meeting schedulers.


A description of the routine homework assignment for each topic and a tentative homework schedule for the lecture section of this course is posted at
That schedule is reiterated below:

Due DateHomework*TopicText ChapterRelevant etext pages
Sept 9TQHW02Force and stresschapter 02etext p. 41-60
Sept 16TQHW03The frictional regimechapter 03etext p. 61-87
Sept 28TQHW04Joints and veinschapter 04etext p. 89-107
Oct 14TQHW05Faultschapter 05etext p. 109-135

All homework assignments are to be completed on your own. Do not plagiarize anyone else's work and turn it in for credit as if it was entirely your own work.

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: -->


Other general information

Academic success

I have high academic expectations for you in my course.
If you find yourself struggling academically, you should consider seeking assistance through the Paul L. Foster Success Center in Sid Richardson (
While I am here to facilitate your learning, responsibility for your learning is yours alone. You will need to commit yourself to taking the time necessary to study and to take care of your mental and physical health by getting enough sleep, exercise, and good food every day. There are many distractions at a university, but it is your responsibility to fulfill your most important responsibility — to learn.

Academic integrity

Academic integrity refers to the "integral" quality of the search for knowledge that a student undertakes. The work a student produces, therefore, ought to be wholly his or hers; it should result completely from the student's own efforts. A student will be guilty of violating academic integrity if he/she...
(a) knowingly represents work of others as his/her own,
(b) uses or obtains unauthorized assistance in the execution of any academic work, including possessing or using a stolen copy of one of Professor Cronin's exams, or
(c) gives fraudulent assistance to another student.
After McGlynn, A.P., 2001

Plagiarism or any form of cheating involves a breach of student-teacher trust. This means that any work submitted under your name is expected to be your own, neither composed by anyone else as a whole or in part, nor handed over to another person for complete or partial revision. Be sure to document all ideas that are not your own. Instances of plagiarism or any other act of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Honor Council and may result in failure of the course. Not understanding plagiarism is not an excuse. As a Baylor student, I expect you to be intimately familiar with the Honor Code —

In the spirit of being a good steward of university resources, you must be careful not to abuse samples, maps, models, reserve materials, or other resources provided for your use in this course.

Students agree that by taking this course, all required papers, exams, class projects or other assignments submitted for credit may be submitted to or similar third parties to review and evaluate for originality and intellectual integrity. A description of the services, terms and conditions of use and privacy policy of is available on its web site: Students understand all work submitted to will be added to its database of papers. Students further understand that if the results of such a review support an allegation of academic dishonesty, the course work in question as well as any supporting materials may be submitted to the Honor Council for investigation and further action.

Students needing academic accommodations

Any student needing academic accommodations as documented through the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation (OALA) should inform me immediately at the beginning of the semester. Required documentation and information regarding accommodations is available at the Paul L. Foster Success Center, 1st floor on the East Wing of Sid Richardson, (254) 710-3605. Accommodations available in this course are not unlimited, and do not include taking quizzes or exams at an OALA-administered site outside of the Geosciences Department.

Military student advisory

Veterans and active duty military personnel are welcomed and encouraged to communicate, in advance if possible, any special circumstances that might impact their participation in this course, such as an upcoming deployment, drill requirements, or disability accommodations. Contact the VETS Program Office with any questions at (254) 710-7264.

Issues related to Title IX

Baylor University asserts that it does not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender in any of its education or employment programs and activities, and it does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex or gender. If you or someone you know would like help related to an experience involving sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, intimate partner violence, or retaliation for reporting one of these type of prohibited conduct, please contact the Title IX Office at (254) 710-8454 or report online at

The Title IX Coordinator for Baylor University is Kristan Tucker. The Title IX office understands the sensitive nature of these situations and can provide information about available on- and off-campus resources, such as counseling and psychological services, medical treatment, academic support, university housing, and other forms of assistance that may be available. Staff members at the office can also explain your rights and procedural options if you contact the Title IX Office. You will not be required to share your experience.

If you or someone you know feels unsafe or may be in imminent danger, please call the Baylor Police Department (254-710-2222) or Waco Police Department (9-1-1) immediately. For more information on the Title IX Office, the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Interpersonal Violence policy, reporting, and resources available, please visit

For an overview of Title IX, read the description available from at


If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a rape or other serious assault that might have left physical evidence, go (or encourage the other to go) to a hospital emergency room where the evidence can be collected/documented by a trained professional. Go as soon after the assault has occurred as possible, and do not change clothes or wash any part of your body until after the evidence is collected. It is my understanding that this confidential process does not commit anyone to reporting or filing charges in the incident, but it does preserve the evidence and hence preserves your/their ability to pursue legal courses of action in the future. If the evidence is not collected, the possibility that the assailant will be brought to justice is greatly reduced if not completely eliminated.

Assault victims should seek the assistance of a professional counselor who has been trained to help assault victims, and who is sufficiently credentialed so that a victim/client's communication with them is legally recognized as confidential. This professional service must be rendered by a trained and credentialed professional, and is not a service that your friends, family, pastor, minister, lawyer, academic advisor, department head, favorite teacher, dorm RA, or other informal (untrained, uncredentialed) counselors are able to provide. Professional counseling will be necessary to begin the psychological healing process.

Baylor University has reportedly asserted its belief through papers filed with the court that "Universities do not owe a legal duty to protect students from harm from fellow students" (Waco Tribune-Herald, 8 January 2017, "BU moves to dismiss 4th Title IX suit" by Phillip Ericksen).

To develop your background knowledge of the issue of sexual violence on college campuses, I recommend that you begin by reading Jon Krakauer's 2015 book Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (Doubleday, 384 pp., ISBN 0385538731)

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