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Southern Rift Institute

The Southern Rift Institute promotes field-based, student research on rift-related geology, with a focus on the southern Rio Grande Rift.


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The SRI was established in order to enhance ongoing and emerging field-based student research in southern New Mexico. Rift settings have complete histories of erosion, sedimentation, volcanism and faulting; the combined efforts of the faculty in the SRI will address these interlinked processes. Faculty in the SRI include:

Dr. Jeff Amato, Director (Structural Geology, Geochronology)

Dr. Reed Burgette (Neotectonics)

Dr. Brian Hampton (Sedimentology and Stratigraphy)

Dr. Emily Johnson (Volcanology, Igneous Petrology)


Above: SRI faculty at their Rio Grande rift session at GSA 2019. From left, Brian Hampton, Jeff Amato, Reed Burgette, and Emily Johnson.


The faculty in the SRI are working on cross-disciplinary research projects in the southern Rio Grande rift, with funding and support from both alumni and external and internal (NMSU) grants. Students working on SRI projects are benefitting from the collaboration and involvement of other SRI students and faculty, thus gaining a greater breadth of knowledge of rifting processes


Students supported by SRI:

  • Nick Richard (MS 2019), Advisor: Jeff Amato
  • Michelle Gavel (MS 2019), Advisor: Jeff Amato
  • Dani Vitarelli (MS candidate), Advisor: Emily Johnson
  • Ronny Sholdt (MS candidate), Advisor: Reed Burgette
  • Shay Ridl (MS candidate), Advisor: Brian Hampton


Donations to the SRI are appreciated, and can be made by following the link below:

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Here are some photos of students whose research on the geology of the Rio Grande rift has been supported by SRI.
Rio Grande
Rio Grande
Rio Grande
Rio Grande