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
  • 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.

Tectonic grain in Alaska/Yukon, with interesting subsurface observations of mineral belts and arc magmatic systems: V. Schulte-Pelkum, J. S. Caine, J. V. Jones, T. 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, accepted, 2020.

Inherited geologic fabric in California may control present-day fault behavior: V. Schulte-Pelkum, Z. Ross, Y. Ben-Zion, K. Mueller, Tectonic inheritance with dipping faults and deformation fabric in the brittle and ductile southern California crust, J. Geophys. Res., published in early view, 2020. paper supplementary info

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