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Jeffrey A Karson

Professor of Earth Sciences

Research and Teaching Interests

The focus of my research is structural and tectonic analysis of rift and transform plate boundaries. My approach involves the systematic collection of geological data in order to determine the geometry, chronology, and mode of formation of outcrop-scale deformation structures and their relation to crustal processes that operate on a regional scale. These studies are undertaken with the collaboration of geophysicists, petrologists, and geochemists in order to help understand the interplay of various geologic processes during deformation. Integrating the diverse perspectives available from different settings provides a cross-pollination of concepts that might not be possible from a single approach.


The Dynamic Earth (EAR 101)

Advanced Structural Geology (EAR 400/600)

Plate Tectonics (EA R431/631) with Paul Fitzgerald

Oceanic Lithosphere & Ophiolites (EAR432/632)


B.S. (Geology) Case Institute of Technology (CWRU), 1972
M.S. (Geology) State University of New York at Albany (SUNYA), 1975
Ph.D. (Geology) State University of New York at Albany, 1977


Teaching Assistant, Department of Geological Sciences, SUNYA, 1972-1976
Research Assistant, Department of Geological Sciences, SUNYA, 1976-1977
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, 1977-1979
Postdoctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), 1979-1980
Assistant Scientist, Department of Geology and Geophysics, WHOI, 1980-1984
Summer Faculty Fellow, Department of Geology and Planetology, Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology, 1984 and 1985
Associate Scientist, Department of Geology and Geophysics, WHOI, 1984-1986
Associate Professor, Department of Geology, Duke University, 1986-1992
Professor, Department of Geology, Duke University, 1992-1996
Adjunct Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, 1992-2002
Research Fellow, Danish Lithosphere Center, 1994-2000
Professor, Division of Earth & Ocean Sciences, NSEES, Duke University, 1996-2006
Chairman, Division of Earth & Ocean Sciences, NSEES, Duke University, 1996-2000
Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Syracuse University, August 2006-present
Jessie Page Heroy Professor and Chair, Department of Earth Sciences, July 2007-present

Journal Articles

Karson, J.A., G.L. Früh-Green, D.S. Kelley, E.A. Williams, D.R. Yoerger, and M. Jakuba, Detachment shear zone on the Atlantis Massif Core Complex, Mid-Atlantic Ridge 30°N, G-Cubed 7 (6), doi:10.1029/2005GC001109, 2006.

Sæmundsson, K. and J. A. Karson, Stratigraphy and tectonics of the Húsavík-Western Tjörnes area, Unpublished Report, prepared for Alcoa and HRV Engineering, ÍSOR-2006/-32, 35 pp and 1:20,000 Geological Map, 2006.

Christeson, G.L., K.D. McIntosh and J.A. Karson, Inconsistent correlation of seismic layer 2a and lava layer thickness in oceanic crust, Nature 445, doi:10.1038/nature05517, 2007.

Hayman, N.W. and J.A. Karson, Faults and damage zones in fast-spread crust exposed on the north wall of the Hess Deep Rift: Conduits and seals in seafloor hydrothermal systems, G-Cubed, 8, 10, Q10002, doi:10.1029/2007GC001623, 2007.

Kelley, D.S., G.L. Früh-Green, J.A. Karson, and K.A. Ludwig, Lost City hydrothermal field revisited, Oceanography 20, 4, 90-99, 2007.

Perk, N.W., L.A. Coogan, J.A. Karson, J.A., E.M. Klein, and H.D. Hanna, The primitive lower oceanic crust from Pito Deep: Implications for the accretion of the lower crust at the southern east Pacific Rise, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, doi:10.1007/ s00410-007-0210-z, 2007.

Varga, R.G., A. Horst, J.S. Gee and J.A. Karson, Direct evidence from anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility for lateral melt migration a superfast spreading centers, G-Cubed 9 (8), Q08008, doi:10.1029/2008GC002075, 2008.

Hayman, N.W. and J.A. Karson, Faulting and hydrothermal alteration in superfast spread crust of the East Pacific Rise exposed at Pito Deep, G-cubed 10, Q02013, doi:10.1029/2008GC002319, 2009.

Pollock, M.A., E.M. Klein, J.A. Karson and D.S. Coleman, Compositions of dikes and lavas from the Pito Deep Rift: Implications for accretion at superfast spreading centers, Journal of Geophysical Research 114, B03207, doi:10.1029/2007JB005436, 2009.

Siler, D.L. and J.A. Karson, Three-dimensional structure of inclined sheet swarms: Implications for crustal thickening and subsidence in the volcanic rift zones of Iceland, J. Volcanology Geothermal Res., 188, 333–346, 2009.

Christeson, G.L., J.A. Karson, and K.D. McIntosh, Mapping of seismic layer 2A/2B boundary above the sheeted dike unit at intermediate-spreading crust exposed near the Blanco Transform, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G-Cubed), 11, Q03015,doi: 10.1029/2009GC002864, 2010.