Contact Us


Geological Sciences
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3022
Moscow, ID 83844-3022
phone: (208) 885-6192
fax: (208) 885-5724

Simon Kattenhorn

Simon A. Kattenhorn, Ph.D.

Office: McClure 303B
Phone: (208) 885-5063
Email: simkat@uidaho.edu
Mailing Address: c/o Department of Geological Sciences
P.O. Box 443022
Moscow, ID 83844-3022

College of Science
University of Idaho
Professor - Geomechanics, Structural Geology, Planetary Geology

Campus Locations: Moscow

  • Research/Focus Areas
    • Structural Geology: Fault and Fracture Mechanics
    • Tectonics of Oblique Spreading Ridges
    • Planetary Geology
    • Tectonic-Magmatic Interaction
  • Biography
    • PhD, Geological and Environmental Sciences, 1998—Stanford University
    • MS, Geology, 1994—University of Akron
    • BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc, Geology, 1990, 1991, 1994—University of Natal, Durban, South Africa

    My research program incorporates the fields of structural geology, geomechanics, and tectonophysics, integrating field-based studies with lab-based numerical modeling analyses. I place strong emphasis on the use of analytical and numerical computation in order to better understand the mechanics of deformation in the Earth, and its application or usefulness to society. My work thus spans the gamut between theoretical and applied.

    My interests lie predominantly in the characterization of fracture and fault systems in three dimensions and the mechanics of fault failure as applied to earthquake behavior and fault evolution. My work necessitates detailed characterizations of the state of stress in actively deforming environments, facilitating the prediction of fault behavior and associated deformation, such as folding and fracture development.

    My work also has application to the geology of other planets and moons in the solar system. For example, I am working on NASA-funded projects investigating the development of faults and fractures in the ice crust of Jupiter's moon Europa, and Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan. I am also interested in faulting and volcanological problems on Mars and earth's Moon.
  • Selected Publications
    • Blakeslee, M.W., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2013. Revised earthquake hazard of the Hat Creek fault, northern California: A case example of a normal fault dissecting variable-age basaltic lavas. Geosphere, 9 (5), 1-13, doi:10.1130/GES00910.1.
    • Payne, S.J., McCaffrey, R., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2013. Extension-driven right-lateral shear in the Centennial shear zone adjacent to the eastern Snake River Plain, Idaho. Lithosphere, 5, 407-419, doi:10.1130/L200.1.
    • Hammond, N.P., Phillips, C., Nimmo, F., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2013. Flexure on Dione: Investigating subsurface structure and thermal history. Icarus 223, 418-422.
    • Payne, S.J., McCaffrey, R., King, R.W., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2012. A new interpretation of deformation rates in the Snake River Plain and adjacent basin and range regions based on GPS measurements. Geophysical Journal International, 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05370.x.
    • Patthoff, D.A., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2011. A fracture history on Enceladus provides evidence for a global ocean. Geophysical Research Letters 38, L18201, doi:10.1029/2011GL048387.
    • Bray, V.J., Tornabene, L.L., Keszthelyi, L.P., McEwen, A.S., Hawke, B.R., Giguere, T.A., Kattenhorn, S.A., Garry, W.B., Rizk, B., Caudill, C.M., Gaddis, L.R., van der Bogert, C.H., 2010. New insight into lunar impact melt mobility from the LRO camera. Geophysical Research Letters 37, L21202, doi:10.1029/2010GL044666.
    • Marshall, S.T., Kattenhorn, S.A., Cooke, M.L. 2010. Secondary normal faulting in the Lake Mead fault system and implications for regional fault mechanics. In: Umhoefer, P.J., Beard, L.S., Lamb, M.A., eds., Miocene Tectonics of the Lake Mead Region, Central Basin and Range: Geological Society of America Special Paper, 463, 289-310.
    • Schultz, R.A., Hauber, E., Kattenhorn, S.A., Okubo, C.H., Watters, T.R., 2010. Interpretation and analysis of planetary structures. Journal of Structural Geology 32, 855-875.
    • Kattenhorn, S.A., Hurford, T.A. 2009. Tectonics of Europa. In: Europa, Pappalardo, R.T., McKinnon, W.B., Khurana, K., eds, University of Arizona Press, 199-236.
    • Groenleer, J.M., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2008. Cycloid crack sequences on Europa: Relationship to stress history and constraints on growth mechanics based on cusp angles. Icarus 193, 158-181.
    • Kattenhorn, S.A., Schaefer, C.J. 2008. Thermal-mechanical modeling of cooling history and fracture development in inflationary basalt lava flows. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 170, 181-197.
    • Clifton, A.E., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2006. Structural architecture of a highly oblique divergent plate boundary segment. Tectonophysics 419, 27-40.
    • Kattenhorn, S.A., Marshall, S.T. 2006. Fault-induced perturbed stress fields and associated tensile and compressive deformation at fault tips in the ice shell of Europa: Implications for fault mechanics. Journal of Structural Geology, 28, 2204-2221.
    • Billings, S.E., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2005. The great thickness debate: Ice shell thickness models for Europa and comparisons with estimates based on flexure at ridges. Icarus 177, 397-412.
    • Marshall, S.T., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2005. A revised model for cycloid growth mechanics on Europa: Evidence from surface morphologies and geometries. Icarus 177, 341-366.
    • Grant, J.V., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2004. Evolution of vertical faults at an extensional plate boundary, southwest Iceland. Journal of Structural Geology 26, 537-557.
    • Kattenhorn, S.A. 2004. Strike-slip fault evolution on Europa: evidence from tailcrack geometries. Icarus 172, 582-602.
    • Schaefer, C.J., Kattenhorn, S.A. 2004. Characterization and evolution of fractures in low-volume pahoehoe lava flows, eastern Snake River Plain, Idaho. GSA Bulletin 116, 322-336.
    • Kattenhorn, S.A. 2002. Nonsynchronous rotation evidence and fracture history in the Bright Plains region, Europa. Icarus 157, 490-506.
  • Research Projects
    • Europa fractures
      I am working to unravel the style and history of fracturing in the ice shell of Jupiter's moon Europa. The ~30 km thick ice shell has a ~100 km deep ocean beneath it that responds tidally to the gravitational pull of Jupiter, resulting in deformation of the overlying ice shell, and hence fracturing. Fractures range from tension cracks to normal faults to strike-slip faults to convergence bands. I am interpreting the sequence of development of these features in the context of the tidal stress history.
    • Enceladus fractures
      Saturn's moon Enceladus is unique in the solar system in that it exhibits currently active plumes of water ice erupting from giant cracks at the south pole, like geysers. I am unraveling the sequence of fracturing in the south-polar region to understand the link between these eruptions, the cracks, and the tidal stress history of this moon due to the gravitational pull of Saturn.
    • Mars tectonics and water
      The surface of Mars provides compelling evidence for large flows of fluids (presumably water) across the surface in the distant past. I am interested in examining what may have become of these fluids, which are likely stored as subsurface reservoirs. I am also examining the link between tectonics and fluid flow in terms of ancient drainage patterns and the structural disturbance of the subsurface reservoirs through analysis of normal faults and volcanic fissures.
    • Iceland rift zone
      I am investigating the process of oblique spreading across the rift zone of Iceland, where the mid-Atlantic ridge comes onshore. Specifically, I am developing models to explain the interaction between tectonic and volcanic processes and its implications for the tectonic fabric and earthquake behavior of the rift zone.
    • Earthquake hazard in Northern California
      I am conducting a fault mechanics analysis of the Hat Creek fault, a normal fault near Lassen Peak in northern California, to ascertain its structural evolution and earthquake potential. There is ample evidence for prehistoric earthquake activity along the fault scarp, likely the result of M>7.0 events; however, no historical earthquakes have been recorded. With the aid of detailed mapping and cosmogenic nuclide analyses, the earthquake history and future seismic potential will be progressively ascertained.

Simon's Links