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The University of Tennessee

Earth and Planetary Sciences

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Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.

Professor and Distinguished Scientist

Structural Geology & Tectonics

Large Faults, Mountain Chains, and Continental Crust

These are my primary research interests. While we employ stratigraphic, petrologic, geophysical, geochemical, and geochronologic data to address the origin and evolution of these features, we view the world through "structural geology-colored glasses." A multidisciplinary approach, however, must be employed to address the complex processes related to the construction of mountain chains and continental crust. We work with structures on all scales, from microscopic to 3-D map-scale; incorporate available geophysical data; obtain geochemical data to determine the sedimentary and igneous origins of metamorphic rocks; determine P-T conditions of deformation and metamorphism; obtain geochronologic data on ages of rock units and magmatic or detrital components to bracket times of deposition, intrusion, and metamorphism; and conduct basin analysis to understand sedimentation processes and basin evolution. While we employ many laboratory techniques to solve problems, we are primarily field geologists-detailed geologic maps that we make form our primary, quantitative data sets.

Although most of my research has been in the Appalachians, and I am frequently categorized as an Appalachian geologist, the Appalachians serve as a classic "back-yard" orogen through which other orogenic belts can be understood. I have visited the Canadian and U.S. Cordillera, British and Scandinavian Caledonides, Alps, Moroccan Atlas and Meseta, and Andes, several times, and have spent smaller amounts of time in the Carpathians (Tatras), Xinling, and Mexican Cordillera, as well as in parts of the Canadian Shield and Argentine Sierras Pampeanas. M.S. and Ph.D. theses have been completed in the Appalachians, Alaska, Norway, and the Colombian Andes.

Most of what we do is basic research, but with ready spin off into engineering, hydrocarbon (and mineral) exploration, earthquake and landslide hazards, and waste disposal problems. As a result, students find employment in a variety of places ranging from universities, federal agencies and laboratories, state geological surveys and other state agencies, to engineering and environmental firms, and petroleum companies.


Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
1412 Circle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-1410
Phone: (865) 974-6565

Research Activities