Assistant Research Professor
Geology Field Course Director
Undergraduate Scholars Program Director

Contact Information

Office:   Traphagen Hall #105
Phone:   (406) 994-6760

Curriculum Vitae


B.A. Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1985
M.S. University of Colorado, Boulder, 1995
Ph.D. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 2001


GEO 429R: Geology in the Field - May-June annually

Research Interests

Structural geology, continental tectonics, microstructural analysis, rheology of geologic materials, metamorphic petrology, field geology, thermochronology, EBSD analysis, carbon sequestration.

Shear zone and fault kinematics and dynamics. Research focuses on the interaction between brittle earthquake faulting and slow plastic creep near the mid-crustal rheologic transition from brittle to ductile deformation. Recent work has also included processes of strain localization in debris-rick glacial ice. To understand these processes I employ a diverse range of research methods including detailed field mapping, optical petrography and orientation analysis, Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD), metamorphic petrography, fluid inclusion microthermometry, and thermochronology.  

Large-scale architecture and evolution of the continental lithosphere. Research is aimed at understanding the origin and evolution of persistent structures in the continental lithosphere and the influence that such structures have on later evolution of the continents. I have worked for years to understand structural trends that originated during Archean to Proterozoic assembly of the North American Lithosphere and have been repeatedly reactivated during subsequent tectonic episodes.

Fluid-rock interactions in fractured CO2 reservoirs. Experimental investigation of chemical reactions between supercritical CO2, brine and reservoir rocks during injection of CO2 for geological carbon capture and storage (CCS) or enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Research employs a unique flow-through rock core reactor and advanced imaging of fracture networks using optical petrography, magnetic resonance imaging (MR), Computed X-Ray Tomography (mCT), laser confocal fluorescence microscopy and other methods.

Structure and rheology of geologic materials. I use Electron Backscatter Diffraction, optical orientation imaging and other laboratory methods to investigate the crystalline structure of natural materials including rock, ice dinosaur eggshell and (potentially) bone.

Current Research Projects

Homestake Shear Zone, Colorado. The HSZ encompasses the largest pseudotachylyte-bearing seismiogenic fault 

Cordillera Blanca Detachment Peru. NSF-funded project investigating shear-zone-scale processes, crustal strength, and geodynamics of a major active extensional fault in the Peruvian Andes. Collaboration with Dr. Micah Jessup (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and Dr. Dennis Newell (Utah State University).

Lone Peak Rock Glacier, Montana. Study of strain localization and glacier kinematics of the debris-covered glacier at Big Sky, Montana. Collaboration with Dr. Mark Skidmore (MSU), Dr. Marvin Speece (Montana Tech), Caitlyn Florentine (University of Montana), and Dr. Kimberly Casey, (NASA - Goddard).

Current Graduate Students

Seth Mangini (co-advised with Mark Skidmore)

Lauren Thomas (co-advised with Mark Skidmore)

Selected Recent Publications

* student co-authors

Shaw, C.A. and Tikoff, B. eds., 2014. Exploring the Northern Rocky Mountains. Geological Society of America Field Guide 37, Geological Society of America, Boulder, ISBN: 978-0-8137-0037-3, 203 p.

*Vogt, S.J., Shaw, C.A., *Brox, T., Maneval, J.E., Skidmore, M.L., Codd, S.L., and Seymour, J.D., 2014. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of permeability enhancement in fast-flow-paths during supercritical CO2 injection in sandstone and carbonate rock cores, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, v. 122, p. 507-514.

*Florentine, C., Skidmore, M., Speece, M., Link, C., and Shaw, C.A., 2014.Geophysical analysis of transverse ridges and internal structure at Lone Peak rock glacier, Montana, USA. Journal of Glaciology, v. 60, n. 221, p.453-462, 21, doi: 10.318921/2014JoG13J160.

Allen, J.L., and Shaw, C.A., 2013. Seismogenic fault-zone processes and heterogeneity recorded by pseudotachylyte: New insights from the Homestake shear zone, Colorado, in Abbott, L.D., and Hancock, G.S., eds., Exploring 125 years of GSA discoveries in the Rocky Mountain region:Geological Society of America Field Guide 33, p. 165–183, doi:10.1130/2013.0033(05).

Jones, J.V., III, Shaw, C.A., Allen, J.L., and *Housh, T., 2013. U-Pb zircon age constraints on two episodes of Paleoproterozoic magmatism and development of the Grizzly Creek shear zone, White River Uplift, western Colorado, U.S.A., Rocky Mt. Geology, v. 48, n. 1, p. 15-39.

*Lee, P.E., Jessup, M.J., Shaw, C.A., and Hicks, G.L., 2012. Strain partitioning in the mid-crust of a transpressional shear zone:  Insights from the Homestake and Slide Lake shear zones, Central Colorado. Journal of Structural Geology, v. 39, p. 237-252.

Allen, J.L. and Shaw, C.A., 2011, Seismogenic structure of a crystalline thrust fault: Fabric anisotropy and coeval pseudotachylyte-mylonitic pseudotachylyte in the Grizzly Creek shear zone, Colorado, in Fagereng, A., Toy, V.G., and Rowland, J.V., eds., Geology of the Earthquake Source: A Volume in Honour of Rick Sibson, Geological Society, London, Special Publication 359, p. 135-151, doi: 10.1144/SP359.8 0305-8719/11.

Kirkham, R.M, Streufert, R.K., Cappa, J.A., Shaw, C.A., Allen, J.L., and Schroeder, T.J. II, 2008. Geologic map of the Glenwood Springs quadrangle, Garfield County, Colorado. Colorado Geological Survey Map Series, MS-38, 1:24,000.

Shaw, C.A. and Allen, J.L., 2007, Field rheology and structural evolution of the Homestake shear zone, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Geology, v. 42, no. 1, p. 31-56.

Allen, J.L. and Shaw, C.A., 2007, Proterozoic geology and Phanerozoic reactivation of the newly recognized Grizzly Creek shear zone, Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, in Raynolds, R.G., ed., Roaming the Rocky Mountains and Environs:Geological Society of America Field Guide 10, p. 45-61, doi: 10.1130/2007.fld010(03).