National Science Foundation Workshop on Rift Initiation and Evolution

The multitude of active faults in the Illinois rift system poses a significant hazard to people of Illinois and state infrastructure. That is why Dr. Yev Kontar, staff member of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), contributed to the National Science Foundation (NSF) GeoPRISMS Implementation Workshop on the Rift Initiation and Evolution (RIE) Initiative, which took place on November 4-6, 2010, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The RIE workshop addressed four broad questions: (1) Where and why do continental rifts initiate? (2) How do fundamental rifting processes (such as tectonics, magmatism, erosion, transport, and sedimentation), and the feedbacks between them, evolve in time and space? (3) What controls the structural and stratigraphic architecture of rifted continental margins during and after breakup? (4) What are the mechanisms and consequences of fluid and volatile exchange between the earth, oceans, and atmosphere at rifted continental margins and between the lithosphere and the mantle? The workshop participants discussed 15 white papers including a collaborative research project entitled, "Is the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone related to the ancient Reelfoot Rift?". Multi-institution study of the Reelfoot Rift's deep structure will provide insight into the processes that shaped North America and continue to control rifting worldwide, and a research consortium was organized for this study.