Graduate Students

Dylan Schmeelk

Dylan Schmeelk

M.S. candidate for Geodesy, a subdiscipline of geo

Office: CHCB 320
Office Hours:

Office: CHCB 320

Hours: Wednesday 10-noon, or by appointment.

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Summary

I moved to Montana to persue an B.S. Degree in Geology. Having achieved that goal I am now studying for an M.S. in Geodesy. My advisor is Rebecca Bendick

In my spare time I enjoy getting outside. I am an avid rock climber, and enjoy endless powder days backcountry skiing in Montana.


2012 - Present: M.S. student of Geology in the Geosciences Department, The University of Montana, Missoula; Advisor: Rebecca Bendick

2012 B.S. Geoscience - The University of Montana, Missoula

Field of Study


I am studying strain in the continental lithosphere, using GPS geodesy and ambient noise tomography, focused on a transect 160km in length. The transect is oriented WNW, extending from the foothills just south of May, ID to Sheep Mountain in Montana; which is just south of Virginia City, MT (fig.1). My goal is to determine how strain is accommodated in continental lithosphere, along the transect, and which properties are the principal causes that lead to brittle vs. ductile strain. Advancements in our understanding of strain dynamics in continental lithosphere will lead us away from the brittle theories of The Plate Tectonic Approximation and towards better models for prediction of continental strain.


The Plate Tectonic Approximation assumes plate interiors are rigid and all crustal deformation occurs along thin plate boundaries (Wilson, 1965; McKenzie and Parker, 1967). Models produced with these assumptions are effective at representing kinematics, but have innate shortcomings for representing mechanics. The proposed research involves GPS velocity measurement of the Red Rock Fault slip rate, and representation of velocity attributable to either plastic, brittle, or elastic strain along a 160km transect. The Basin and Range Province, which encompasses my field area, is a good example of why the Plate Tectonic Approximation is not a good model for continental crust. This region deforms widthwise along a distance that is approximately 20% of the east-west length of the continent. It has been proposed that The Basin and Range Province extends through Montana and is opening in a wedge with greater extension in the south and less in the north (Dickenson, 2006).

Thesis Statemant:

In continental crust displacement of two points that lie 1 kilometer on either side of the Red Rock Fault will not equal the displacement between two points that lie 80 kilometers on either side of the fault. The results of this study will test whether the mechanical properties of continental crust and lithosphere require multiple deformation mechanisms, including plastic, brittle, and elastic strain in order to close the velocity budget. The expected outcome is a better understanding of the mechanics of strain accommodation in continental lithosphere.



Continuous GPS site overlooking the Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho.


Teaching Experience

Currently teaching for The University of Montana:

  • GEO102 Introduction to Geology Lab - Sections 3 and 6

Previously for REI Outdoor School:

  • Sea Kayaking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Rock Climbing Anchors
  • Road Cycling
  • Mountain Biking
  • Geocaching
  • GPS
  • Map & Compass

Previously for REI retail:

  • Various Customer Clinics
  • Product Training for Employees

Previously for various outdoor education companies (including Outward Bound L.A. - working with youth at risk):

  • Natural Science - including biology, botany, environmental issues, and geology.
  • Leave No Trace Ethics
  • Backpacking Basics
  • Cooking
  • Interpersonal Communication and Group Problem Solving Through Teambuilding Activities

Professional Experience

Geodesy experience:

Research, design, purchasing of materials and equipment, fabrication, testing, scouting sites, and installation of GPS geodesy array. Continued maintinence, repair, and data collection of continuous and campaign GPS geodesy array.

Museum experience:

Fossil vinac application. Trimming excess material from fossil samples. Thin section fabrication. Lab equipment maintenance and repair

International Experience

Lived and attended university for three months at The University of Potsdam, in Germany. 


Field Studies in the structure of Montpellier, France





Climbing (Elephants Perch)

Climbing (Elephant's Perch)


Skiing (Bitterroot Mountains)

Skiing in the Bitterroots


Weaving rope rugs