richard Allmendinger

Richard Waldron Allmendinger

Professor Emeritus


Rick Allmendinger is a structural geologist focused on understanding brittle upper crustal deformation during earthquakes and at longer scales during foreland fold-thrust belt deformation. He received his A.B. degree with distinction from Cornell University in 1975 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1979. Following work with the U.S. Geological Survey and post-doctoral experience, he joined the Cornell faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor. He earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 1990, and became a full professor in 1996. In 2008 he was appointed Associate Dean for Diversity, Faculty Development, and Mentoring for the College of Engineering, a position he held until December 31, 2011. He is also a visiting professor in the doctoral program at the Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta, Chile. Allmendinger is the 2012 recipient of the Career Contribution Award from the Structure and Tectonics Division of the Geological Society of America.

Research Interests

General research interests include structural geology and tectonics, earthquake geology, structural geodesy, numerical kinematic modeling, interpretation of seismic reflection profiles, regional tectonics of South America, field geology.

Specific research has included: structural geometry of the Idaho-Wyoming thrust belt, 1976-1979; microscopic analysis of fold and thrust kinematics in the Idaho-Wyoming thrust belt, 1977-1979; Cenozoic structural evolution along the margin of the Snake River Plain, 1978-1979; kinematic analysis of minor faults associated with the San Gregorio strike-slip fault, Pigeon Point, California, 1978; morpho-tectonic analysis of the Galapagos Rift from high resolution bathymetry data, 1978-1979; processing and analysis of COCORP Rio Grande Rift and Laramie Range, Wyoming data, 1979-1981; geotectonic reconnaissance traverses of the Argentine Andes, 1981-1984; regional, mesoscopic, and microscopic structural analysis, hinterland of the Sevier orogenic belt, 1980--; compilation and analysis of paleogeography and structural geometry, northern/central Argentine Andes, 1981-1986; processing and analysis of COCORP Basin and Range data, 1982-1985; structural geometry and kinematic analysis of fault slip data from the Puna Plateau, northwest Argentina, 1983-91; reprocessing of industry VIBROSEIS, data to produce deep seismic reflection profiles from the Argentine Andes, 1985-96; Reprocessing of industry dynamite seismic reflection data from the Calingasta-Iglesia Valley, San Juan Province, Argentina, 1986-92; thrust belt and crustal-scale balanced cross-sections in western Argentina, 1986--; analysis of LANDSAT Thematic Mapper data from Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, 1985--; development of kinematic analysis of fault slip data, including scale invariance, 1987-94; study of growth strata geometries in field and on industry seismic data, 1988--; dedicated deep seismic reflection profiling in the Central Andes, 1995-1999; active tectonics of the San Juan and Mendoza regions of western Argentina using field, seismic, and GPS data, 1996--; structure of the western part of the Neuquén basin, Argentina, 1997--; structure of blind thrust tips using forward and inverse models of trishear kinematics, 1997--; Forearc tectonics of northern Chile, 2000--; extracting regional instantaneous strain and rotation rate information from geodetic GPS networks.

Teaching Interests

Allmendinger teaches both Introduction to Earth Sciences and more advanced courses in structural geology. He is widely recognized as an educator in his discipline thanks to numerous short courses he has taught over the years as well as the lecture notes, on-line demos, and teaching software available on his web page. In his teaching, he is both a technologist and a luddite, eschewing PowerPoint while embracing classroom polling devices like i-Clickers. Allmendinger has received two teaching awards from the College of Engineering.


Service Interests

Allmendinger is dedicated to helping Cornell students and the public at large understand the difficult issues surrounding energy and global climate change as well as natural hazards such as earthquakes. To this end, he maintains a high profile web site and gives numerous public lectures a year in venues such as Ithaca High School, Museum of the Earth, Cornell Alumni events, and in various seminars and campuses around campus. He is the Engineering College representative to and a Faculty Fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Although no longer Associate Dean, Allmendinger remains a Sloan Faculty member involved in mentoring underrepresented minority students. He is a frequent member of faculty panels for Diversity Programs in Engineering, Engineering Coop and Career Services, and most recently the Vice Provost's office for Faculty Diversity.

Within his own discipline, Allmendinger is known throughout the world for the structural geology software, lecture notes, and animations that he makes freely available via his web site. The download page for his program Stereonet received more than 20,000 hits in 2012.

Selected Publications

  • Allmendinger, R.W., Siron, C.R., and Scott, C.P., 2017, Structural data collection with mobile devices: Accuracy, redundancy, and best practices: Journal of Structural Geology, v.102, p. 98-112.
  • Loveless, J. P., Chelsea P. Scott, Richard W. Allmendinger, G. González. 2016. "Slip distribution of the 2014 Mw=8.1 Pisagua, northern Chile, earthquake estimated from coseismic fore-arc surface cracks." Geophysical Research Letters 43 (19): 10134-10141.
  • Scott, Chelsea P., Richard W. Allmendinger, Gabriel González, John P. Loveless. 2016. "Coseismic extension from surface cracks reopened by the 2014 Pisagua, northern Chile, earthquake sequence." Geology 44 (5): 387-390.
  • Allmendinger, R.W., Phoebe A. Judge. 2014. "The Argentine Precordillera: A foreland thrust belt proximal to the subducted plate." Geosphere 10 (6): 1203-1208.
  • Allmendinger, R.W., Phoebe A Judge. 2013. "Stratigraphic Uncertainty and Errors in Shortening from Balanced Sections in the North American Cordillera." Geological Society of America Bulletin 125 (9/10): 1569-1579.
  • Baker, Amanda M., Richard W. Allmendinger, Lewis Owen, Jason Rech. 2013. "Permanent deformation caused by subduction earthquakes in northern Chile." Nature Geoscience 6 (6): 492-496.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Geological Society of America, Fellow
  • Zellman Warhaft Commitment to Diversity(College of Engineering, Cornell University)2013
  • 2012 Career Contribution Award(Structural Geology Division, Geological Society of America)2012
  • Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (organizational award)(White House (managed by NSF))2011
  • Robert '55 and Vanne '57 Cowie Excellence in Teaching Award(Cornell University College of Engineering)2009
  • Sonny Yau Excellence in Teaching Award(Cornell University College of Engineering)2003


  • AB(Geological Sciences),Cornell University,1975
  • Ph D(Structural Geology),Stanford University,1979
  • Postdoctoral Associate(Research with the Consortium for Continental Reflection Profiling (COCORP), under direction of J. Oliver and S. Kaufman),Cornell University,


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