Stephen Hurst

In Alvin

Research Programmer - Structural Geologist

  • B.S. California Institute of Technology, 1977.
  • M.S. University of North Carolina, 1979.
  • M.S. University of North Carolina, 1981.
  • Ph.D. University of California, Davis, 1991

Office: 33 Computer Applications Building
: (217)333-0205

Structural Geology and Tectonics - Educational Technology


Steve Hurst came to Illinois in April 1996 from Duke University where he was a Research Assistant Professor. As a structural geologist he has been concentrating on understanding crustal extension in magma-rich and magma-poor environments. This has led to participation in a variety of projects from studies on the fast-spreading East Pacific Rise to the slow-spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge near the Kane fracture zone (MARK area); from the East African Rift to the East Greenland rifted volcanic margin. He sailed on ODP Legs 153 (MARK area), 163 (East Greenland), and 174B (CORKing Hole 395A).

The latest cruise was in 2010 to Hess Deep in the eastern Pacific to help on a site survey for an IODP drilling leg currently scheduled for Dec. 2012. Previously he went to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the Atlantis Fracture Zone to study an uplifted massif that may be part of an extremely extended piece of crust called an oceanic metamorphic core complex. There we also discovered a new type of hydrothermal vent.

Before that he went back to the Hess Deep area near the East Pacific Rise to study deformation in the upper oceanic crust. Research in the ocean and on land requires vastly different tools and approaches. In the oceanic environment Dr. Hurst is interested in mapping the seafloor using high-resolution side-scan sonar, submersible observations and sampling. He has applied paleomagnetic techniques to oriented samples collected from the seafloor to analyze rotations associated with extension. Investigations in continental rifting environments and ophiolites have also utilized paleomagnetic studies as well as other geophysical techniques such as gravity and magnetics.

Most of his work involves applying quantitative analytical methods and modeling to aid in tectonic and structural interpretation. Image processing of deep-tow side-scan sonar data from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Thematic Mapper satellite data of the East African Rift complements traditional field mapping and sampling. Fracture patterns and fracture density in oceanic crustal sections have been investigated using image processing of photographs and video from ALVIN dives.


  • Modeling the Earth and Environment (GEOL 481)
  • The Oceans (GEOL 117)
  • Structural Geology (GEOL 411)
  • Challenges of Sustainability (ESES 482)
  • Scholarship of Sustainability (ESES 497)

Educational Technology

He has helped develop and publish computerized field trips for use in teaching introductory geology. These field trips are an excellent way to bring together quantitative and qualitative geologic information and present it to the student in an interactive situation. He is currently working on advanced version of these field trips to use in Introductory Geology Labs. At Illinois he will help the geology faculty implement new and innovative ways of using computers to help students learn earth science.

For a panoramic look at the corelab and rig floor on the ODP Joides Resolution drill ship try these links:


Rig Floor Rig Floor!

Make sure that you have QuickTime installed on your computer and the Quicktime Plug-in for your browser.

Some Publications

  • Hurst, S.D. and Karson, J.A.,2004. Side-scan sonar along the north wall of the Hess Deep Rift: Processing, texture analysis, and geologic ground truth on an oceanic escarpment, J. Geophys. Res., V. 109, 2002, doi:10.1029/2002JB002116
  • Blackman, D.K., Karson, J.A., Kelley, D.S., Cann, J.R., Früh-Green, G.L., Gee, J.S., Hurst, S.D., Barbara E. John, B.E., Morgan, J., Nooner, S.L., Ross, D.K., Schroeder, T.J., Williams, E.A., 2004. Geology of the Atlantis Massif (Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 30°N):Implications for the Evolution of an Ultramafic Oceanic Core Complex, Mar. Geophys. Res.
  • Karson, J.A., Klein, E.M., Hurst, S.D., and Hess Deep '99 Scientific Party, 2001, Structure of Uppermost Fast-Spread Oceanic Crust of the East Pacific Rise Exposed at the Hess Deep Rift, Nature.
  • Gao, D., Hurst, S.D., Karson, J.A., Delaney, J.R., and Speiss, F.N., 1998. Computer-aided interpretation of side-looking sonar images from the eastern intersection of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge with the Kane Transform. J. Geophys. Res., V. 103, p. 20997-21014.
  • Hurst, S.D., 1998. Use of "Virtual" Field Trips in Teaching Introductory Geology., Comp. Geosci., V. 24, p. 653-658.
  • Hurst, S.D., Karson, J.A., and Verosub, K.L., 1994. Paleomagnetism of Tilted Dikes in Fast-spread Oceanic Crust Exposed at Hess Deep. Tectonics, V. 13, p. 789-802.
  • Hurst, S.D., Moores, E.M., and Varga, R.J., 1994. Structure and Geophysical Expression of the Solea Graben, Troodos Ophiolite, Cyprus. Tectonics, V. 13, p. 139-156 .