Christopher M. Bailey

Professor and Chair

Office : McGlothlin-Street Hall 215
Email : [[cmbail]]
Office Phone : 757 221 2445


  • Ph.D. & M.A., Johns Hopkins University
  • B.S., College of William & Mary
Research Interests

Structural Geology, Tectonics, & Landscape History

 I am a structural geologist interested in understanding the geometry and history of deformed rocks as well as the physical and chemical processes associated with deformation in the earth’s crust. In particular, I’ve worked to quantify strain and vorticity in ductile shear zones. With William & Mary undergraduates we’ve studied mylonite zones in the Appalachians, the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, and metamorphic core complexes in the southern Basin & Range.

Much of my research is focused on elucidating the tectonic history of the central and southern Appalachians. Although the Appalachians have been studied for well over a two centuries, many important tectonic questions remain unanswered. Our studies in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont provinces are wide-ranging and integrate structural analysis with petrology, sedimentology, and geochronology.

Recently I’ve been working in the High Plataeus of central Utah to understand the interactions between volcanism, tectonics, and surface processes. We have recognized a suite of young grabens likely formed in response to plateau uplift in the transition zone between the Colorado Plateau and Basin & Range. Many of the grabens are quite young (<700 ka) and the interaction between drainage systems and structural basins makes for exciting research.

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Current Projects

Strain and Vorticity Analysis of Deformed Rocks

Structural Geometry and Tectonic History of the Virginia Appalachians

Geology and Landscape History of the High Plateaus, Utah

Selected Publications

Bailey, C. M., Wooton, K. M.*, Forte, A. M.*, and Hasty, B. A.*, Goldenbaum, L.A.*, and Shirvell, C.R.*  2012. Geologic Map of the Swift Run 7.5’ quadrangle, Virginia: Virginia Division Geology and of Mineral Resources Publication 179. Download pdf copy

Southworth, S., Aleinikoff, J. N. Bailey, C. M., Burton, W. C., Tollo, R. P., Crider, E. A., and Denenny, D. M., 2009, Geologic Map of  the  Shenandoah National Park Region, Virginia. U. S. Geological Survey Report 2009-1153, 96 p., 1 plate at 1:100,000 scale. download pdf copy

Bailey, C. M., Polvi, L. E.*, and Forte, A. M.*, 2007, Pure shear dominated high-strain zones in basement terranes. Geological Society of America Memoir 200, p. 93-108.

Bailey, C. M., Peters, S. E.*, Morton, J.*, and Shotwell N. L.*, 2007, The Mechum River Formation, Virginia Blue Ridge: a record of Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic tectonics in southeastern Laurentia. American Journal of Science, v. 307, p. 1-22. 

Forte, A. M.* and Bailey, C. M., 2007, Testing the utility of the porphyroclast hyperbolic distribution method of kinematic vorticity analysis. Journal of Structural Geology doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2007.01.006

Bailey, C. M., Harris, M. S., and Marchetti, D. W., 2007, Geologic overview of the Fish Lake Plateau, Utah: Utah Geological Association Publication v. 36, p. 47-56.

Bailey, C. M., S. Southworth, and R. P. Tollo, 2006. Tectonic History of the Blue Ridge, north-central Virginia: in Pazzaglia, F. J., ed, Excursions in Geology and History: Field Trips in the Middle Atlantic States: Geological Society of America Field Guide 8, p. 113-134.

Bailey, C. M., Koteas, G. C., Relyea, J., Weikel, E. K., Dubose J., and Goodman, M. C., 2005. Bedrock Geologic Map of the Columbia 7.5’ quadrangle Virginia. Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Open File Report 05-02.

Bailey, C. M., Owens, B. E., and Shirvell, C. R.* 2005. Comment on Northern ancestry for the Goochland terrane as a displaced fragment of Laurentia. Geology Online Forum, p. e70. DOI 10.1130/0091-7613(2005)312.0.CO;2

Bailey, C. M., Francis, B. E., and Fahrney, E. E. 2004. Strain and vorticity analysis of transpressional high-strain zones from the Virginia Piedmont, USA. Flow Processes in Faults and Shear Zones, Geological Society of London, Special Publications, v. 224, p. 249-264.

Eaton, L. S., Bailey, C. M., and Gilmer, A. K. 2004. The Debris Flows of Madison County, Virginia. Virginia Geological Field Conference Guidebook. 27 p.

Bailey, C. M. and Eyster, E. L.* 2003. General shear deformation in the Pinaleno Mountains metamorphic core complex, Arizona, Journal of Structural Geology, v. 25, p. 1883-1892. 

Davidson, C., Davis, K. J.*, Bailey, C. M., Tape C. H.*, Singleton, J.*, and Singer, B. 2003. Age, origin, and significance of brittle faulting and pseudotachylyte along the Coast shear zone, Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Geology, v. 31, p. 39-42.

Bailey, C. M., Giorgis S.*, and Coiner L. V.* 2002. Tectonic inversion and basement buttressing: an example from the central Appalachian, Blue Ridge province. Journal of Structural Geology, v. 24, p. 925-936.

Berquist, C. R. Jr., and Bailey, C. M. 1999. Late Cenozoic reverse faulting in the Fall Zone, southeastern Virginia. Journal of Geology, v. 107, p. 727-732.

Bailey, C. M. and Peters, S. E. 1998. Glaciogenic sedimentation in the Late Neoproterozoic Mechum River Formation, Virginia. Geology, v. 27, p. 623-626. (Related Science News Cover Article)


110: Physical Geography: Earth's Environmental Systems

150: Freshman Seminar - Earthquakes & Tectonics

307: Planetary Geology

311: Field Methods

312: Weather, Climate, & Change

323: Earth Structure & Dynamics