Computational tectonics

Our research interests are the deformation of rocks at all scales and the structures resulting from this deformation. We aim to better understand the thermo-mechanics of tectonic processes, such as for example mountain building due to continent-continent collision.
We study the thermo-mechanical processes of rock deformation with the concepts of continuum mechanics. Continuum mechanics reduces thermo-mechanical issues to mathematical problems and we solve these mathematical problems with computers. There are still many unsolved issues concerning rock deformation and tectonic processes, such as for example (i) the forces driving plate motions, (ii) the rheology and strength of the continental lithosphere, (iii) the formation of the Tibetan plateau or (iv) the formation of large-scale fold nappes. By studying the thermo-mechanics of rock deformation with computational methods in combination with field work and laboratory measurements we aim for solving some of these issues.

Folding. Folds are perhaps the most common tectonic structure developed in deformed rocks and folds occur in rocks from the millimeter to the lithospheric scale ...

Pinch-and-swell structures. Pinch-and-swell structures form in layered, ductile rocks due to layer-parallel extension. Pinch-and-swell structures can only form in ...

Shortening of the continental lithosphere. During a continent-continent collision, such as the India-Asia or the Europe-Adria collision, some areas of the continental ...

Formation of fold nappes. Fold nappes are large scale recumbent folds with amplitudes sometimes more than 10 kilometers. Fold nappes have been recognized ...

Subduction modelling with overriding plate. Subduction of oceanic lithosphere is one of the key processes of plate tectonics. The overriding plate is thereby often ...

Wave propagation in porous and fractured rocks. Rocks in the upper crust are usually porous and/or fractured. The pores and fractures are either fully or partially ...


Research group

Stefan Schmalholz

Research team
Thibault Duretz

PhD students
Candioti Lorenzo
Macherel Emilie


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