Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Vera Schulte-Pelkum

Research Scientist III; Associate Research Professor

Headshot of Vera Schulte-Pelkum
Office Location
BESC - 440B

Research Interests

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

Current Research

  • Stress, strain, deformation, and reactivation of inherited fabric in the lithosphere
  • Automated processing and correlation of large seismic and geological data sets
  • 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 and structural data with 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 under the link at the bottom.

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 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.

Alaska tectonics and weird circles around volcanoes: 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.

Rock fabric and microseismicity show that continental crust has a memory: 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 article and supporting info

Earthquakes in continental mantle, which is supposedly to gooey to have them: 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 research spotlight

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


Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Geosciences

Diplom, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, Geophysik

Research Categories

Solid Earth

Honors and Awards

2004: Golden Piton award
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About CECA

CECA connects and creates a supportive environment for graduate students and postdocs who come from various academic units to do research in CIRES.