My research has focused on the dynamics and kinematics of fault systems, using scaled analog modeling, field studies, remote sensing, seismic data, and comparison with published examples.
Initially my work focused on the 3-D geometries and kinematics of strike-slip fault systems, using innovative analog modeling techniques at the laboratories of Royal Holloway University of London and integration with field studies from the eastern Mojave Desert, USA (e.g., McClay and Dooley, 1995; Dooley and McClay, 1996, 1997; Dooley et al., 1999).
From 1994 through 2003 I helped further develop the modeling laboratories at Royal Holloway to include modeling of delta tectonics (Kalimantan, Indonesia), salt tectonics (Central North Sea), and extensional tectonics (Gulf of Suez), and I continued research on segmented strike-slip fault systems (Coso Geothermal Field, Eastern California) (e.g., McClay et al., 2000; Dooley et al., 2003). Much of this work was funded by the petroleum industry, requiring focused research on field-specific problems.
In 2003 I was given the opportunity to move to the Applied Geodynamics Laboratory, Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin, to head up the modeling laboratories and work on salt-related modeling with Martin Jackson and Mike Hudec. The work here at AGL will initially involve updating the modeling laboratories with new deformation rigs for use with high-resolution digital photography in order to enhance the graphic and multimedia potential of the physical models. Modeling work will continue to focus on salt-related topics, addressing complex scenarios using relatively simple modeling techniques. The primary focus will be on gravity-driven salt tectonics, including topics such as salt-sheet advance, utilizing a variety of source-layer geometries including precursor diapir systems, syn-sedimentary thrusting, and the influence of strike-slip motion on salt-body reactivation. The last topic on strike-slip influences will build on knowledge gained during numerous strike-slip experiments at Royal Holloway, as well as integration of current research work with that of the U.S. Navy Geothermal Program Office on the structural evolution of the Coso Geothermal System, Eastern California.