Associate Research Professor • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Geological Sciences

Office: Benson 462B

Research Interests

Structure, deformation, rheology, and anisotropy of the lithosphere and mantle; receiver functions and array processing; seismic noise wavefield; seismic and volcanic hazards

Current Research

  • Crustal fault zones and magmatic systems
  • Automated processing and correlation of large seismic and geological data sets
  • Stress, strain, deformation, and reactivation of inherited fabric in the lithosphere
  • Deformation and strength partitioning in Himalaya/Tibet, Zagros, western U.S.
  • Anisotropic rheology
  • Scaling of elastic anisotropy from mineral grains to seismic wavelengths
  • Deep ductile fabric and shear zone imaging
  • Tectonic history from combining xenolith data and seismic observations


Papers with interesting supplementary info (which can be a pain to track down, so I've provided bundled links), movies, and recent articles. More publications on my CIRES page.

Rock fabric from collision and volcanoes in the Banda arc: Zhang, P., Meghan S. Miller and V. Schulte-Pelkum (2022), Tectonic fabric in the Banda arc-Australian continent collisional zone imaged by teleseismic receiver functions, G-Cubed, in press.

How to connect electron backscatter diffraction to geologic maps, faults, and the subsurface: Frothingham, M., K. Mahan, V. Schulte-Pelkum, J. S. Caine, From crystals to crustal-scale seismic anisotropy: Bridging the gap between rocks and seismic studies with digital geologic map data in Colorado, Tectonics, 41, e2021TC006893, doi:10.1029/2021TC006893, 2022.

All deformation markers for the southern California plate boundary lithosphere one could possibly think of, explained together: V. Schulte-Pelkum, Thorsten W. Becker, Whitney Behr. Meghan S. Miller, Tectonic inheritance during plate boundary evolution in southern California constrained from seismic anisotropy, G-Cubed 22(11), e2021GC010099, doi:10.1029/2021GC010099, 2021.

How far off you might be if you assume the uppermost mantle is all olivine: Bernard, Rachel E., Vera Schulte-Pelkum, Whitney M. Behr, The competing effects of olivine and orthopyroxene CPO on seismic anisotropy, Tectonophysics, 814, 228954, doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2021.228954, 2021.

Inherited geologic fabric in California may control present-day fault behavior: Schulte-Pelkum, V., Z. Ross, K. Mueller, Y. Ben-Zion, Tectonic inheritance with dipping faults and deformation fabric in the brittle and ductile southern California crust, J. Geophys. Res., 125(8), e2020JB019525, doi:10.1029/2020JB019525, 2020 paper supplementary info

Tectonic grain in Alaska/Yukon, with interesting subsurface observations of mineral belts and magmatic systems: Schulte-Pelkum, V., J. S. Caine, J. V. Jones III, T. W. B. Becker , Imaging the tectonic grain of the Northern Cordillera orogen using Transportable Array receiver functions, Seismological Research Letters, Focus section on EarthScope in Alaska and Canada, 91(6), 3086-3105, doi:10.1785/0220200182, 2020.

Earthquakes in continental mantle: V. Schulte-Pelkum, G. Monsalve, A. F. Sheehan, P. Shearer, F. Wu, S. Rajaure, Mantle earthquakes in the Himalayan collision zone, Geology, 47(9): 815-819, 2019 open access article supplementary info

How crustal rock fabric behaves, and useful new scaling rules when inverting for seismic anisotropy: S. Brownlee, V. Schulte-Pelkum, A. Raju, K. Mahan, C. Condit, O. Orlandini, Characteristics of deep crustal seismic anisotropy from a compilation of rock elasticity tensors and their expression in receiver functions, Tectonics, 2017 early view article; Eos highlight

Evolution of the continental U.S. deep crust from geology and seismology, with interactive maps: V. Schulte-Pelkum, K. Mahan, W. Shen, J. Stachnik, The distribution and composition of high-velocity lower crust across the continental U.S.: Comparison of seismic and xenolith data and implications for lithospheric dynamics and history, Tectonics, 36(8), 2017 open access article; interactive maps (to play with layers, open in Adobe Reader and use View->Show/Hide->Navigations Pane);  Editor's highlight

Moho-cutting Denali fault, and slab under Alaska: Allam, A., V. Schulte-Pelkum, Y. Ben-Zion, C. Tape, N. Ruppert, Z. Ross, Ten kilometer vertical Moho offset and shallow velocity contrast along the Denali fault zone from double-difference tomography, receiver functions, and fault zone head waves, Tectonophysics, in press, 2017, early view article

Subduction channel under the Himalaya? D. McNamara, W. Yeck, W. Barnhart, V. Schulte-Pelkum, E. Bergman, L. Adhikari, A. Dixit, S Hough, H. Benz, P. Earle, Source modeling of the 2015 Mw 7.8 Nepal (Gorkha) earthquake sequence: Implications for geodynamics and earthquake hazards, Tectonophysics, 2016, doi

Deep crustal deformation across the continental U.S.: Schulte-Pelkum, V. and K. Mahan, A method for mapping crustal deformation and anisotropy with receiver functions and first results from USArray, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 402, 221-233, 2014 pdf

Ductile shear zone imaging: Schulte-Pelkum, V. and K. Mahan, Imaging faults and shear zones using receiver functions, Pure Appl. Geophys., 171, 2967–2991, 2014 doi

Decoupled mantle root from seismology, geochemistry, and petrological modeling: Schulte-Pelkum, V., G. Biasi, A. Sheehan, and C. Jones, Differential motion between upper crust and lithospheric mantle in the central Basin and Range, Nature Geosci., 4, 619-623, 2011 pdf

Deformation fabric on the Main Himalayan Thrust fault: Schulte-Pelkum, V., G. Monsalve, A. Sheehan, M.R. Pandey, S. Sapkota, R. Bilham and F. Wu, Imaging the Indian Subcontinent beneath the Himalaya, Nature, 435, 1222-1225, 2005 pdf

Watch seismic arrays track storms in the Pacific and Atlantic: Schulte-Pelkum, V., P. S. Earle and F. L. Vernon, Strong directivity of ocean-generated seismic noise, G-Cubed, 5, doi:10.1029/2003GC000520, 2004 pdf, movie

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Diplom-Geophysik (M. Sc.), Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany