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Richard D. Law

Professor of Geology
Robert Bodnar
5105A Derring Hall

The primary focus of my research is in structural geology and tectonics.  The common theme in the majority of my research projects has been to investigate the cause and effect relationships between deformation processes operating on different scales.  These projects frequently involve integration of data from the crystal lattice or individual mineral grain scale, up through the hand sample and outcrop scales, to the scale of individual mountain belts. Study areas have included: 1) the Himalaya of Pakistan, NW India, Nepal and southern Tibet; 2) Caledonides of northern Scotland; 3) Armorican Massif of western Brittany; 4) Orocopia Mountains of southern California; 5) White-Inyo Mountains of eastern California; 6) Brooks Range of northern Alaska. 


Ph.D., 1981, Chelsea College, London University
M.Sc., 1977, Imperial College, London University
B.Sc., 1975, Kingston University


Deformation mechanisms in geological materials; deformation thermometry; formation of quartz crystallographic preferred orientation patterns in naturally deformed rocks and their kinematic and tectonic significance; relationships between strain and the formation of geological structures; linkages between tectonics and thrust/normal faults with especial reference to strain path partitioning and deformation mechanisms.

Region specific studies have included:

  • Tectonic and thermal evolution, kinematics and vorticity of flow within the Greater Himalayan slab exposed in the Everest Massif (southern Tibet and Nepal), Annapurna Range (Nepal), Sutlej Valley, Simla Klippe and Zanskar Valley (northwest India).
  • Exhumation of eclogites in the Himalaya of Pakistan.
  • Structural/tectonic and thermal evolution of the Caledonides of northern Scotland.
  • Pluton emplacement mechanisms in the White-Inyo Mountains of eastern California.
  • Formation and inversion of the Diligencia Basin, Orocopia Mountains, southern California.
  • Neotectonics in the southern Appalachians.
  • Extensional deformation in the Brooks Range of Alaska.
  • Shear zone evolution in the Sierras Pampeanas region of western Argentina.
  • Structural evolution of the Armorican massif in western Brittany and relationships between 3D strain and quartz crystal fabric development.

Current Graduate Students

  •       Calvin Mako, PhD candidate (co-advised)

Previous Graduate Students

  •       Kyle Overby, MS
  •       Andy Parsons, PhD (co-advised)
  •       Kyle Ashley, PhD (co-advised)
  •       Nick Heaverlo, MS
  •       Don Stahr, PhD
  •       Sarah Mazza, MS
  •       Matt Francsis, MS
  •       Ben Roth, MS
  •       Ryan Thigpen, PhD
  •       Micah Jessup, PhD
  •       Karen Michelsen, MS
  •       Bill Sullivan, MS
  •       Joel Maynard, MS (co-advised)
  •       John Vines, MS
  •       Kelly Rose, MS
  •       Sven Morgan, PhD
  •       Nancy Brauer, MS (co-advised)
  •       Ginger Vaughn, MS
  •       Jeff VanDerHurst, MS (co-advised)
  •       Rich Whitmarsh, MS
  •       Eric Gardner, MS
  •       Cole Davisson, MS (co-advised)
  •       Sven Morgan, MS
  •       Matt Nyman, PhD (co-advised)

* denotes graduate student, former graduate student, or postdoctoral fellow of RDL



  • Law, R.D., Thigpen*, J.R., Merschat, A., Stowell, H. (editors) in press.  Linkages and Feedbacks in Orogenic Process.  Geological Society of America Memoir, No 213.  ISBN: 978-0-8137-1213-0.
  • Law, R.D., Butler, R.W.H., Holdsworth, R., Krabbendam, M. & Strachan R. (editors) 2010.  Continental Tectonics and Mountain Building: The Legacy of Peach and Horne.  Geological Society of London, Special Publications, No 335, 872 pp.  ISBN: 978-1-86239-300-4.
  • Law, R.D., Searle, M.P. & Godin, L. (editors) 2006. Channel Flow, Ductile Extrusion and Exhumation in Continental Collision Zones. Geological Society of London Special Publications, No 268, 632 pp. ISBN: 978-1-86239-209-0.

Special Issues of Journals

  • Carosi, R., Montomoli, C. and Law, R.D. (editors). 2017. A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Development of the Himalaya Karakorum Tibet Orogenic System from the Mantle to Mountain Peaks.  Italian Journal of Geosciences, 34, No. 1, 9 papers, 109 pp. Official URL:
  • Menegon, L., Pennacchioni, G., Stipp, M., Mancktelow, N. S. and Law, R. D. (editors) 2015.  Deformation Mechanisms and Ductile Strain Localization in the Lithosphere.  Solid Earth, European Geosciences Union. Special Issue, 10 papers.  Official URL:
  • Montomoli, C., Carosi, R., Law, R., Singh, S. and Rai, S.M. (editors) 2014. Geological Field Trips in the Himalaya, Karakorum and Tibet.  Journal of the Virtual Explorer, Electronic Edition, DOI:10.3809/jvirtex.vol.2014.047  ISSN 1441-8142.  Volume 47.  14 chapters.


Papers (last two years only)


  • 89.  Thigpen*, J.R., Law, R.D., Merschat, A., Stowell, H.  in press.  Linkages and feedbacks in orogenic process: an introduction. In: Law, R.D., Thigpen, J.R., Merschat, A., Stowell, H. (editors), Linkages and Feedbacks in Orogenic Process. Geological Society of America Memoir, No 213.  doi:10.1130/2017.1213(00).
  • 88.  Ashley*, K.T., Law, R.D., Bodnar, R.J., Eriksson, K.A. in press.  Quartz inclusions in garnet: Time capsules of early mountain building.  In: Law, R.D., Thigpen, J.R., Merschat, A., Stowell, H. (editors) Linkages and Feedbacks in Orogenic Process. Geological Society of America Memoir, No 213  doi:10.1130/2017.1213(08)
  • 87.  Thigpen*, J.R., Ashley*, K.T., Law, R.D.  in press  Evaluating kinematic displacement rate effects on transient thermal processes in thrust belts using coupled thermomechanical finite-element models. In: Law, R.D., Thigpen, J.R., Merschat, A., Stowell, H. (editors), Linkages and Feedbacks in Orogenic Process. Geological Society of America Memoir, No 213
  • 86.  Gebelin, A., Jessup*, M., Teyssier, C., Cosca, M., Mulch, A., Law, R.D., Brunel, M. 2017. Infiltration of meteoric water in the South Tibetan Detachment (Mount Everest, Himalaya): When and why?  Tectonics, 36, doi: 10.1002/2016TC004399
  • 85.  Ashley*, K.T., Law, R.D., Thigpen*, J.R. 2017. Garnet morphology distribution in the northern part of the Moine Supergroup, Scottish Caledonides.  Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 35, 77-94. doi:10.1111/jmg.12221.



  • 84.  Parsons*, A.J., Ferré, E.C., Law, R.D., Lloyd, G.E., Phillips, R.J., Searle, M.P. 2016. Orogen-parallel deformation in the Himalayan mid-crust: Insights from structural and magnetic fabric analyses of the Greater Himalayan Sequence, Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya, central Nepal. Tectonics, 35, 2515-2537. doi: 10.1002/2016TC004244. Four Supplementary Data Files.
  • 83.  Parsons*, A.J., Law, R.D., Lloyd, G.E., Phillips, R.J., Searle, M.P.  2016. Thermo-kinematic evolution of the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya, central Nepal: The composite orogenic system. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G Cubed, American Geophysical Union), 17, 1511-1539.  doi: 10.1102.2015GC006184. Five Supplementary Data Files.

Andy Parsons awarded John Ramsay Medal of Geological Society of London's Tectonic Studies Group in 2017 for G Cubed paper. Medal awarded to postgraduate or recent graduate judged to have produced best publication arising directly from a PhD project in the field of tectonics and structural geology.

  • 82.  Parsons*, A.J., Phillips, R.J., Lloyd, G.E., Law, R.D., Searle, M.P., Walshaw, R.D. 2016. Mid-crustal deformation of the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya, central Nepal: An atypical example of channel flow during the Himalayan Orogeny. Geosphere (Geological Society of America), 12, No 3, 1-31. doi: 10.1130/GEOS01246.1 Three Supplementary Data Files.