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Kirk McIntosh, UTIG Senior Research Scientist
Kirk McIntosh, UTIG research scientist

Kirk McIntosh

Senior Research Scientist

Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz (1992);
B.Sc., Colorado School of Mines (1980)

Telephone: 512-471-0480
email: kirk at

Office: 3.222

Kirk is interested in the structure and development of continental margins and deformation of continental interiors. He has worked extensively on convergent margin structure and processes, including subduction zones and arc-continent collision. More recently he has focused attention on rifted margins because of their central role in arc-continent collision. His work investigates the structures and processes ranging from crustal scale to (large) outcrop scale that can be studied using seismic reflection and refraction data, CHIRP profiler data, multibeam bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and other geological and geophysical tools. Among these processes are sediment accretion, subduction, and erosion at convergent margins, forearc and backarc extension and compression, fluid flow in prisms, and shallow-subduction seismicity. At divergent margins Kirk is interested in documenting transitions from "normal" to thin and ultra-thin continental crust and the nature of the continent-ocean boundary where oceanic crust is first present. Studies of both the rifted margin structure and subduction zone tectonics combine to better understand arc-continent collision.

McIntosh's primary research sites are currently the Middle America Trench system offshore Costa Rica (where seamount subduction, the subduction of the Cocos Ridge, backarc thrusting, forearc extension, and a migrating triple junction pose exciting challenges), Taiwan's arc-continent collision zone (one of the world's few sites of an ongoing continent/island-arc collision), and deformation of the North American mid-continent region along the Mississippi River. McIntosh and UTIG colleague Nathan Bangs led a 3-D seismic reflection cruise offshore Costa Rica in 2011, which is intended to support deep IODP drilling to the seismogenic part of the subduction zone megathrust. In his most recent research program in the Taiwan area McIntosh and UTIG colleagues Harm van Avendonk, Luc Lavier, and Yosio Nakamura have combined geophysical data, especially seismic reflection and refraction data, and geodynamic modeling to reveal the processes of arc-continent collision. In partnership with University of Memphis and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, McIntosh and Steffen Saustrup (UTIG) have used the UTIG high-resolution seismic reflection system and a CHIRP profiler on three acquisition campaigns on the Mississippi River. These efforts have produced unprecedented images of long-term deformation (up to the recent past) at several sites along the river, including several previously undocumented zones.