Gary Axen

Gary Axen
Professor of Geology
Dept. of Earth & Environmental Science
New Mexico Tech
Socorro, NM 87801

Office: MSEC 344
Phone: (575) 835-5178
Fax: (575) 835-6436
Email: gary.axen at

PhD, Harvard University

I am a structural geologist with broad interests in orogenesis, fault mechanics, rock deformation and subsurface interpretation.  My research has included projects in the U.S., Mexico, the European Alps and Iran, with emphases on extensional tectonics, continental collision and both transpression and transtension.


I teach Processes in the Earth’s Crust (ERTH 203; co-taught with Chloe Bonamici), Intermediate Structural Geology (ERTH 453-GEOL 553), Field Methods in Earth Science (the last 2 weeks of Field Camp, ERTH 480/483), Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting (GEOL 558-GEOP 558; co-taught with Sue Bilek), Tectonics (ERTH 454- GEOL554) and various specialty graduate courses/seminars (on demand). Practically all courses involve field trips and multidisciplinary learning.

Research Interests

My research interests are broad and include fault mechanics, continental tectonics (extensional, convergent, and strike-slip), shear- and fault-zone evolution, and applications of thermochronology. Fault mechanics research focuses on low-angle normal faults and, more recently, evolution of fault rocks. Past tectonic projects focus on the complex 3-D evolution of oblique rifting and collision. I have served on many
graduate student committees in geology, tectonics, petroleum systems, earthquake seismology, reflection seismology, hydrology, numerical and analog geodynamic modeling, and economic geology.
My research, and that of my students, typically includes diverse approaches and collaborations with experts in other fields. These have included geologic mapping (regional to outcrop scale), structural/mechanical analysis, sedimentology, metamorphic petrology, geo- and thermochronology, volcanology, fluid-inclusion analysis, numerical modeling, and paleomagnetism.