Sierra Drips CD Project page


Removal of mantle lithosphere has become a popular hypothesis for many orogens, from the Appalachians to the Tibetan Plateau and from the Archean formation of lithosphere to ongoing tectonism in the Andean arc. The physical process remains poorly observed. The earlier Southern Sierra Continental Dynamics Project and Sierran Paradox CD Project have led to the suggestion that the Sierra lost mantle lithosphere under its southern part by about 3 Ma. This relatively young event occured at a transform boundary and thus lacks complications present in places like the Andes. This project and its companion EarthScope project (SNEP) seek to define the lithospheric structure and geological history of the Sierra and from that learn the importance of this foundering in California tectonics, the physical parameters controlling foundering, and the mechanism of foundering. This information should provide a better understanding of the physics of this process in general and allow for more careful application of this process as an explanation in other orogens.

Project personnel will be examining:

Two hypotheses for Sierran mantle foundering: limited and whole range.


Name (alphabetical) email interest
Bob Anderson geomorphology
Marin Clark geomorphology, He dating
Mihai Ducea xenolith studies, batholith evolution
Lindy Elkins-Tanton geodynamics and volcanism (petrology)
Hersh Gilbert* seismology
Allen Glazner petrology, volcanic timing
Lang Farmer geochemistry
Craig Jones seismology, geodynamics, seismotectonics
Peter Molnar geodynamics
Tom Owens* seismology
Steve Park magnetotellurics
Jason Saleeby sedimentation (bedrock geology/xenoliths)
Jeff Unruh seismotectonics
George Zandt* seismology, geodynamics

above is list of PIs/co-Is on both EarthScope (*) and Continental Dynamics projects. Zandt is lead on the 2005 EarthScope project, with Gilbert, Owens, and Jones. Jones is lead on the Continental Dynamics project with Anderson, Clark, Ducea, Elkins-Tanton, Glazner, Farmer, Molnar, Park, Saleeby, and Unruh.




Proposal and Figures:

2005 Proposal summary, description and refs PDF (12.6 Mb).

Final Figures for 2005 CD proposal

Figures considered for 2004 CD submission

Delamination animation (2.4 Mb)

The successful 2004 Earthscope proposal (Zandt et al, seismology only)

Figures page with figures in the 2003 EarthScope proposal. Old page with prototypes still available



GMT files: (and a simple script to build a station map)


Supported by this project:


(Seismological results from SNEP on the SNEP page)

Fall AGU, December 15-19 2008, San Francisco: See a list of presentations of relevance to the CD project (URLs below will expire shortly after AGU)

Fall AGU, December 2007, San Francisco

IRIS Meeting, 19-21 June 2003, Fish Camp, CA: (click for abstract)


Other papers from the SierraDrip/SNEP groups: (most recent first)

From other groups:

Abstracts from other groups of interest:


Other info:

SNEP seismic experiment info on SNEP page.

Some other info on Sierran Paradox experiment webpage

Support for the research discussed here has been provided by the National Science Foundation's Continental Dynamics Program through grants 0607831 to C. Jones, R. Anderson, G. L. Farmer, and P. Molnar at CU Boulder, 0607349 to S. Park at UCR, 0607458 to M. Clark at U. Mich., 0607625 to J. Unruh at Wm. Lettis Assoc., 0607702 to L. Elkins-Tanton at Brown Univ., 0607499 to A. Glazner at UNC, 0606903 to J. Saleeby at Caltech, and 0606967 to M. Ducea at Univ. Ariz.. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Please send mail to if you encounter any problems or have suggestions.

C. H. Jones | CIRES | Dept. of Geological Sciences | Univ. of Colorado at Boulder