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Christian Klimczak

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Structural Geology, Planetary Geology
Associate Professor

Current Research Interests

My research is focussed on the growth of faults and other fractures in various active and ancient tectonophysical settings, such as sedimentary basins in North America and Central Europe, as well as in the global contractional tectonic environments of Mercury, the Moon, and Mars. In particular, I am interested in tectonic landform evolution, the interplay of large-scale tectonic and volcanic processes on the terrestrial planets, lithospheric properties of the early Earth, and other terrestrial planets, and fracture patterns, fracture geometries, deformation micro-mechanisms, and fluid flow through or across fractures. I analyze rocks and their fracturing behaviors in the field, in the lab, and from remotely sensed data by modeling, numerically, conceptually, or experimentally, and applying recent advances in geomechanics to several related fields in the geosciences.

  • Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno, 2011
  • Diplom (M.S. equivalent) Freie Universität Berlin, 2007
Research Interests:
  • Fault and fracture growth
  • Tectonic and volcanic evolution of the terrestrial planets
  • Rock-mechanical properties of fractured rock volumes
  • Fluid-fracture interactions
  • Comparing the morphological variability of shortening landforms on Mars and Mercury, NASA Solar System Workings Program; Period: January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2024; Role: PI
  • Do Polygonal Impact Craters Form on Mercury’s Lobate Scarps? Implications for Contractional Tectonism throughout the Solar System. NASA Discovery Data Analysis Program, June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2024, Role: Co-I
  • Three-dimensional Scaling of Large Thrust Faults on Mars, NASA Mars Data Analysis Program; Period: October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2018; Role: PI
  • Characterizing the Geomorphology of Lunar Grabens, NASA Lunar Data Analysis Program; Period: January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018; Role: PI
  • The Architecture of Wrinkle Ridges in the Northern Volcanic Plains of Mercury, NASA Discovery Data Analysis Program, August 1, 2016 to July 31, 2018, Role: Co-PI
  • Searching for Deep-seated Thrust Faults on the Moon, NASA Lunar Data Analysis Program, July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2020, Role: Co-PI
Selected Publications:

Please find PDF versions of my papers on the CPT webpage (



  • 47. Beddingfield, C., Crane, K. T., Klimczak, C., and Cartwright, R.: Mercury's Lobate Scarps Reveal that Polygonal Impact Craters Form on Contractional Structures. The Planetary Science Journal 5:52, 32pp, 2024. doi:10.3847/PSJ/ad1fff
  • 46. Loveless, S. R., Klimczak, C., McCullough, L. R., Crane, K. T., Holland, S. M., and Byrne, P.K.: A statistical evaluation of the morphological variability of shortening landforms on Mercury. Icarus 416, 116106, 2024. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2024.116106
  • 45.Yazıcı, I. S., Cheng, H. C. J., Crane, K. T., and Klimczak, C.: Straight impact crater rim segments on Mercury. Journal of Maps 20(1), 2308687, 2024. doi:10.1080/17445647.2024.2308687


  • 44. Collins, M. S., Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., and Mazarico, E.: Thrust Faults Bound an Elevated Mantle Plug Beneath Several Lunar Basins. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), 128, e2022JE007682, 2023. doi:10.1029/2022JE007682


  • 43. Cheng, H. C. J., and Klimczak, C.: Structural relationships in and around the Rheasilvia basin on Vesta. Journal of Structural Geology 161, 104677, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2022.104677
  • 42. Cheng, H. C. J., and Klimczak, C.: Large-scale troughs on Asteroid 4 Vesta accommodate opening-mode displacement. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), 127, e2021JE007130, 2022. doi:10.1029/2021JE007130


  • 41. Byrne, P. K., Ghail, R. C., Şengör A. M. C., James, P. B., Klimczak C., and Solomon, S. C.: A Globally Fragmented and Mobile Lithosphere on Venus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118, e2025919118, 2021. doi:10.1073/pnas.2025919118
  • 40. Byrne, P. K., Ghail, R. C., Gilmore, M. S., Şengör A. M. C., Klimczak C., Senske, D. A., Whitten, J. L., Khawja, S., Ernst, R. E., and Solomon, S. C.: Venus tesserae feature layered, folded, and eroded rocks. Geology 46, 8185, 2021. doi:10.1130/G47940.1
  • 39. Cheng, H. C. J., Klimczak, C. and Fassett, C. I.: Age relationships of large-scale troughs and impact basins on Vesta. Icarus 366, 114512, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114512
  • 38. Jenkins, W. T., Klimczak C., Trent, P. M., and Crowe, D. E.: Fumarolic pathways were structurally controlled by a strike-slip fault system beneath the Bishop Tuff, Bishop, California. Minerals 11, 1167. doi:10.3390/min11111167


  • 37. Callihan, M. B., and Klimczak, C.: Topographic Expressions of Lunar Graben. Lithosphere 11, 294–305, 2019. doi:10.1130/L1025.1.
  • 36. Crane, K. T., and Klimczak, C.: A 3-D Structural Model of the Saddle Mountains, Yakima Fold Province Washington, USA: Implications for Late Tertiary Tectonic Evolution of the Columbia River Flood Basalt Province. Tectonophysics 766, 1–13, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2019.05.015.
  • 35. Crane, K. T., and Klimczak, C.: Tectonic Patterns of Shortening Landforms in Mercury’s Northern Smooth Plains. Icarus 317, 66–80, 2019.  doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2018.05.034.
  • 34. Klimczak, C., Byrne, P. K., Şengör, A. M. C., and Solomon, S. C.: Principles of structural geology on rocky planets. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, accepted. doi:10.1139/cjes-2019-0065.


  • 33. Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., and Şengör, A. M. C.: The Tectonic Character of Mercury. In: Solomon, S. C., Nittler, L. R., and Anderson, B. J.: Mercury: The View after MESSENGER (Chapter 10), 249–286, 2018, Cambridge Planetary Science.
  • 32. Byrne, P. K., Whitten, J. L., Klimczak, C., McCubbin, F. M., and Ostrach, L. R.: The Volcanic Character of Mercury. In: Solomon, S. C., Nittler, L. R., and Anderson, B. J.: Mercury: The View after MESSENGER (Chapter 11), 287–323, 2018, Cambridge Planetary Science.
  • 31. Klimczak, C., Kling, C. L., and Byrne P. K.: Topographic Expressions of Large Thrust Faults on Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) 123, 1973–1995, 2018. doi:10.1029/2017JE005448.
  • 30. Klimczak, C., Crane, K. T., Habermann, M. A., and Byrne P. K.: The spatial distribution of Mercury’s pyroclastic activity and the relation to lithospheric weaknesses. Icarus 315, 115–123, 2018.


  • 29. Crane K. T., and Klimczak, C.: Timing and rate of Global Contraction on Mercury. Geophysical Research Letters 44, 3082–3089, 2017. doi: 10.1002/2017GL072711.


  • 28. Byrne, P. K., Ostrach, L. R., Fassett, C. I., Chapman, C. R., Denevi, B. W., Evans, A. J., Klimczak, C., Banks, M. E., Head, J. W., and Solomon, S. C.: Widespread effusive volcanism on Mercury likely ended by about 3.5 Ga. Geophysical Research Letters 43, 7408–7416, 2016. doi:10.1002/2016GL069412.
  • 27. Weider, S. Z., Nittler, L. R., Murchie, S. L., Peplowski, P. N., McCoy, T. J., Kerber, L., Klimczak, C., Ernst, C. M., Goudge, T. A., Starr, R. D., Izenberg, N. R., Klima, R. L., and Solomon, S. C.: Evidence from MESSENGER for sulfur- and carbon-driven explosive volcanism on Mercury. Geophysical Research Letters 43, 3653–3661, 2016. doi:10.1002/2016GL068325


  • 26. Banks, M. E., Xiao, Z., Watters, T. R., Strom, R. G., Braden, S. E., Chapman, C. R., Solomon, S. C., Klimczak, C., and Byrne, P. K.: Duration of Activity on Lobate-Scarp Thrust Faults on Mercury. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) 120, 1751–1762, 2015. doi: 10.1002/2015JE004828.
  • 25. Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., McGovern, P. J., Mazarico, E., James, P. B., Neumann, G. A., Zuber, M. T., Solomon, S. C.: Deep-seated reverse faults bound the Mare Crisium lunar mascon. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 427, 183–190, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.06.022.
  • 24. Ernst, C. M., Denevi, B. W., Barnouin, O. S., Klimczak, C., Chabot, N. L., Head, J. W., Murchie, S. L., Neumann, G. A., Prockter, L. M., Robinson, M. S., Solomon, S. C., Watters, T. R.: Volcanic Plains in Caloris Basin: Thickness, Timing, and What Lies Beneath. Icarus 250, 413–429, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2014.11.003.
  • 23. Ferrari, S., Massironi, M., Marchi, S., Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., Martellato, E., Cremonese, G.: Age relations of the Rembrandt basin and associated scarp system, Mercury. In: Platz, T., Massironi, M., Byrne, P. K. & Hiesinger, H. (eds) Volcanism and Tectonism Across the Inner Solar System. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 401, 159–172, 2015. doi.10.1144/SP401.20.
  • 22. Klimczak, C., Byrne, P. K., Solomon, S.: A rock-mechanical assessment of Mercury's global tectonic fabric. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 416, 82–90, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.02.003
  • 21. Klimczak, C.: Brittle strength of planetary lithospheres undergoing global contraction. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) 120, 2135–2151, 2015. doi: 10.1002/2015JE004851.


  • 20. Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., Şengör, A. M. C., Solomon, S. C., Watters, T. R., Hauck II, S. A.: Mercury’s global contraction much greater than earlier estimates. Nature Geoscience 7, 301–307, 2014. doi:10.1038/NGEO2097.
  • 19. Klimczak, C.: Geomorphology of Lunar Grabens Requires Igneous Dikes at Depth. Geology 42, 963–966, 2014. doi:10.1130/G35984.1.
  • 18. Xiao, Z., Strom, R. G., Chapman, C. R., Head, J. W., Klimczak, C., Ostrach, L. R., Helbert, J., D'Incecco, P.: Controlling factors in impact excavation processes: Insights from comparisons of fresh complex impact craters on Mercury and the Moon. Icarus 228, 260–275, 2014. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.10.002.


  • 17. Blair, D. M., Freed, A. M., Watters, T. R., Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., Prockter, L. M., Ernst, C. M., Solomon, S. C., Melosh, H. J., and Zuber, M. T.: The origin of graben and ridges in Rachmaninoff, Raditladi, and Mozart basins, Mercury. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), 118, 47–58, 2013. doi: 10.1029/2012JE004198.
  • 16. Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., Williams D. A., Hurwitz, D. M., Solomon, S. C., Head, J. W., Preusker, F., and Oberst, J.: An Assemblage of Lava Flow Features on Mercury. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) 118, 1303–1322, 2013. doi:10.1002/jgre.20052.
  • 15. Denevi, B. W., Ernst, C. M., Meyer, H. M., Robinson, M. S., Murchie, S. L., Whitten, J. L., Head, J. W., Watters, T. R., Solomon, S. C., Ostrach, L. R., Chapman, C. R., Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., Peplowski, P. N.: The Distribution and Origin of Smooth Plains on Mercury. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) 118, 891–907, 2013. doi:10.1002/jgre.20075.
  • 14. Klimczak, C., Ernst, C. M., Byrne, P. K., Solomon, S. C., Watters, T. R., Murchie, S. L., Preusker, F., Balcerski, J. A.: Insights into the subsurface structure of the Caloris basin, Mercury, from assessments of mechanical layering and changes in long-wavelength topography. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) 118, 2030–2044, 2013. doi:10.1002/jgre.20157.
  • 13. Klimczak, C. and Schultz, R. A.: Shear-enhanced compaction in dilating granular materials. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences 64, 139–147, 2013. doi:10.1016/j.ijrmms.2013.08.012.
  • 12. Klimczak, C. and Schultz, R. A.: Fault damage zone origin of the Teufelsmauer, Subhercynian Cretaceous Basin, Germany. International Journal of Earth Sciences/Geologische Rundschau, 102, 121-138, 2013. doi: 10.1007/s00531-012-0794-z.
  • 11. Schultz, R. A., Klimczak, C., Fossen, H., Olson, J. E., Exner, U., Reeves, D. M., and Soliva, R.: Statistical tests of scaling relationships for geologic structures. Journal of Structural Geology 48, 85-94, 2013. Doi: 10.1016/j.jsg.2012.12.005.


  • 10. Fassett, C. I., Head, J. W., Baker, D. M., Zuber, M. T., Smith, D. E., Neumann, G. A., Solomon, S. C., Klimczak, C., Strom, R. G., Chapman, C. R., Prockter, L. M., Phillips, R. J., Oberst J., and Preusker, F.: Large impact basins on Mercury: Global distribution, characteristics, and modification history from MESSENGER orbital data. Journal of Geophysical Research 117, E00L08, 2012. doi: 10.1029/2012JE004154.
  • 9.   Freed, A. M., Blair, D. M., Watters, T. R., Klimczak, C., Byrne, P. K., Solomon, S. C., Zuber, M. T., and Melosh, H. J.: On the Origin of Graben and Ridges within and near Volcanically Buried Craters and Basins in Mercury’s Northern Plains. Journal of Geophysical Research 117, E00L06, 2012. doi: 10.1029/2012JE004119.
  • 8.   Klimczak, C., Watters, T. R., Ernst, C. M., Freed, A. M., Byrne, P. K., Solomon S. C., Blair, D. M., and Head, J. W.: Deformation associated with ghost craters and basins in volcanic smooth plains on Mercury: Strain analysis and implications for plains evolution. Journal of Geophysical Research 117, E00L03, 2012. doi: 10.1029/2012JE004100.
  • 7.  Watters, T. R., Solomon S. C., Klimczak, C., Freed, A. M., Head, J. W., Ernst, C. M., Blair, D. M., Goudge, T. A., and Byrne, P. K.: Extension and Contraction within Volcanically Buried Impact Craters and Basins on Mercury. Geology 40, 1123-1126, 2012. doi: 10.1130/G33725.1.
  • 6.  Zuber, M. T., Smith, D. E., Phillips, R. J., Solomon, S. C., Neumann, G. A., Hauck II, S. A., Peale, S. J., Barnouin, O. S., Head, J. W., Johnson, C. L., Lemoine, F. G., Mazarico, E., Sun, X., Torrence, M. H., Freed, A. M., Klimczak, C., Margot, J.-L., Oberst, J., Perry, M. E., McNutt, R. L., Jr., Balcerski, J. A., Michel, N., Talpe, M. J., and Yang, D.: Topography of the Northern Hemisphere of Mercury from MESSENGER Laser Altimetry. Science 336, 217-220, 2012. doi: 10.1126/science.1218805.


  • 5.  Head, J. W., Chapman, C. R., Strom, R. G., Fassett, C. I., Denevi, B. W., Blewett, D. T., Ernst, C. M., Watters, T. R., Solomon, S. C., Murchie, S. L., Prockter, L. M., Chabot, N. L., Gillis-Davis, J. J., Whitten, J., Goudge, T. A., Baker, D. M., Hurwitz, D. M., Ostrach, L. R., Xiao, Z., Merline, W. J., Kerber, L. A., Dickson, J. L., Oberst, J., Byrne, P. K., Klimczak, C., and Nittler, L. R.: Flood Volcanism in the Northern High Latitudes of Mercury Revealed by MESSENGER. Science 333, 1853-1856, 2011. doi: 10.1126/science.1211997.
  • 4.  Klimczak, C., Soliva, R., Schultz, R. A., and Chery, J.: Sequential growth of deformation bands in a multilayer sequence. Journal of Geophysical Research 116, B09209, 2011. doi: 10.1029/2011JB008365.


  • Klimczak, C., Schultz R. A., Parashar, R., and Reeves, D. M.: Cubic Law with correlated aperture to length and implications for network scale fluid flow. Hydrogeology Journal 18, 851-862, 2010. doi: 10.1007/s10040-009-0572-6.
  • Klimczak, C., Schultz, R. A., and Nahm, A. L.: Evaluation of the origin hypotheses of Pantheon Fossae, central Caloris basin, Mercury. Icarus 209, 262-270, 2010. doi: 10.1016/j.icarus.2010.04.014.


  • Klimczak, C., Wittek, A., Doman, D., and Riller, U.: Fold origin of the NE-lobe of the Sudbury Basin, Canada: Evidence from heterogeneous fabric development in the Onaping Formation and the Sudbury Igneous Complex. Journal of Structural Geology 29, 1744 – 1756, 2007.


Articles Featuring Christian Klimczak

Journal of Structural Geology publication entitled: Structural relationships in and around the Rheasilvia basin on Vesta

JGR Planets publication entitles: "Large-Scale Troughs on Asteroid 4 Vesta Accommodate Opening-Mode Displacement."

Dr. Christian Klimczak, Associate Professor, has been awarded the UGA M.G. Michael Award.

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