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Departments & Programs


Passive Seismic Imaging of Ruby Mountains Core Complex

This project will acquire high-resolution seismic data about the Ruby Mountains Core Complex in an effort to understand the processes that occurred during its formation. Information acquired about this area will lead to a better understanding of core complexes in other areas, as well as about extenstional tectonics in general. The Ruby Mountains, part of the Basin and Range in northeastern Nevada, are an excellent target area, as previous work provides geologic information at the surface, and seismic studies have been done in the surrounding area, though not over the Ruby Mountains themselves.

A metamorphic core complex is formed when highly deformed lower crustal rocks are exhumed in the footwall of a large detachment fault. Core complexes are common features both in continental extensional provinces such as the Basin and Range and at oceanic spreading centers, but broad questions still remain about their formation. The Ruby Mountains Core Complex has all the characteristic features of a metamorphic core complex, with a domed metamorphic-plutonic footwall, an unmetamorphosed hanging wall, and a mylonitic sub-horizontal sheared detachment separating them.

In June 2010, Stanford students deployed a passive broadband seismic array consisting of 50 stations with 5-10 km spacing in a line down the axis of the Ruby Range and two crossing profiles. The stations will collect seismic data for two years, which will be used to create a map of the subsurface in the area that can be used for interpretation.

Interested in helping with fieldwork? Contact the crustal group to find out how you can help!


  • 2012  Golos, E., Litherland, M., and Klemperer, S.L.  SKS anisotropy on a dense broadband array over the Ruby Mountains Metamorphic Core Complex, Nevada, EOS Trans. AGU, Abstract T43C-2691 presented at 2012 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, CA. [download .pdf]

  • 2012    Scheevel, C., Litherland, M., and Klemperer, S.L.  Repeated Mine Blasts Recorded on a Dense Broadband Array, Ruby Mountains, Nevada, EOS Trans. AGU, Abstract S23A-2530 presented at 2012 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, CA. [download .pdf]

  • 2011    Litherland, M., Lawrence, J., Klemperer, S. Imaging the Ruby Core Complex with Ambient Noise Tomography, Abstract 8-9 presented at Rocky Mountain (63rd Annual) and Cordilleran (107th Annual) Joint Meeting May 2011. [download .pdf]

  • 2011    Litherland, M., Klemperer, S.L, and Lawrence, J.  Crustal Structure of the Ruby Mountains Core Complex from Seismic Observations, EOS Trans. AGU, Abstract S41A-2156 presented at 2011 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, CA. [download .pdf]

  • 2010 Schiltz, K., Litherland, M., Klemperer, S.L.  Anatomy of a Metamorphic Core Complex: Preliminary Results of Ruby Mountains Seismic Experiment, NE Nevada, EOS Trans. AGU, Abstract T51C-2051 presented at 2010 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, CA. [download .pdf Warning - 51 Mb]