What is Rupturing Continental Lithosphere?

Although much progress has been made over the last few years in understanding the kinematics of continental lithosphere deformation, it is agreed that the physics by which the continental lithosphere deforms is not well understood, nor is the manner in which strain is partitioned, either spatially or temporally, and the timing, composition, spatial distribution and melting depth of rift-related magmas. The focused study of these processes form the foundation of the Rupturing Continental Lithosphere (RCL) initiative.

The five overarching themes to be studied comprise:

  1. How does the strength of the lithosphere evolve during rupturing?
  2. How is strain partitioned during lithospheric rupturing?
  3. What is the role of magmatism (and volatiles) during extension and in the transition to sea-floor spreading and what is the relationship between magma petrogenesis and the deformation magnitude and history?
  4. What is the stratigraphic response to lithospheric rupturing?
  5. How are fluid fluxes modified or controlled by lithospheric rupturing?

Recent News

RCL Vision Statement

RCL Nuggets from 2009 Review Documents: Nuggets available online!

RCL Paper in Nature: "Variation in styles of rifting in the Gulf of California", Nature 448, 466-469 (26 July 2007). New publication presenting a major result from the MARGINS-funded PESCADOR Gulf of California cruises.


RCL web pages:


Meeting pages contain abstracts, bibliographies, presentations,
lecture notes and much more information

Focus Areas:


Please feel free to suggest additions to these pages!
E-mail suggestions to the MARGINS Office.


MARGINS is an NSF funded program

The MARGINS Office is Hosted by Columbia University

Last updated Wednesday, November 18, 2009