Active Research


Basal age and provenance of the Great Valley forearc basin, California 

In collaboration with Dr. Kathleen Surpless 

Student: Mariah Romero, PhD Student, MSU

The preservation of the Great Valley forearc has led to over 60 years of research devoted to understanding its evolution, as well as the deep-water sedimentologic processes related to the development of vast petroleum and natural gas reservoirs (e.g., Graham, 1987). Recent advances in geochronologic dating and applications to provenance studies have shed light on sediment dispersal and infilling patterns of the Great Valley forearc (DeGraaff-Surpless et al, 2002; Dumitru et al., 2013; Sharman et al., 2014). However, the application of such tools, has also called into question


Great Valley forearc, CA at the UC Davis McLaughlin Reserve

previously understood stratigraphic age constraints on the timing of initial basin sedimentation (Surpless et al. 2006). More than 10 years after this provocative study, the age and stratigraphic architecture of the basal Great Valley forearc remains unclear. The objectives of this study are to study the “birth” of a forearc basin through determining the depositional age and stratigraphic architecture of the basal Great Valley forearc basin.

Orme, D.A.and Surpless, K.D., Birth of a Forearc: The Basal Great Valley Group, California, USA, Geology. 

Sedimentary facies and structural evolution of the Yarlung Suture Zone 

In collaboration with Dr. Andrew Laskowski, Dr. Fulong Cai and Dr. Ding Lin

The Yarlung suture zone in southern Tibet contains several sedimentary successions that record sedimentation along the southern margin of Asia and leading edge of India prior to and following the onset of continent-continent collision. Our current work documents the discovery of two previously undocumented siliciclastic sedimentary successions, which we mapped and measured during our 2018 field season.

Laskowski, A.K., Orme, D.A., Cai, F., Ding, L., (2019) The Ancestral Lhasa River: A Late Cretaceous trans-arc river that drained the Proto-Tibetan Plateau, Geology, doi:10.1130/G46823.1/ 


Dr. Andrew Laskowski mapping along the Yarlung Suture Zone, July 2018


Wind River Range, Wyoming

Extracting t-T histories from highly variable zircon He datasets

Student: Chance Ronemus, MS Student, MSU

In collaboration with Dr. William Guenthner

Recent advances in the understanding of He diffusivity in zircon provide new opportunities to extract thermal histories from regions with which experienced multiple and prolonged thermal events using the zircon He method. We are currently working on new thermochronologic constraints on the time-Temperature history of the northern Rocky Mountain region in Wyoming.

Check out our article in EPSL: Orme et al. 2016 

Assessing controls on forearc basin subsidence

In collaboration with Dr. Stephan Graham


Low and high density turbidites, Great Valley Forearc, California

Forearc basins are important sediment archives for understanding continental dynamics because they preserve the tectonic, erosional and magmatic record of convergent margins. However, the tectonic forces that drive subsidence in forearc basins are poorly understood. This research seeks to determine the relative contribution of a variety of end-member subsidence mechanisms that act on forearc basins by using the California Great Valley forearc basin as the natural laboratory.

Check out our article in GSA Books:

Orme and Graham (2018)