David W. Rodgers, Ph.D.

Professor of Geosciences

David Rodgers

Personal Background


Born and raised in the Midwest, educated in Minnesota and California, and now settled in Idaho. Specialties are Structural Geology, Regional Tectonics, and more recently Administration.

Beyond work, I backpack, ski, coach soccer, and take a few weeks off each year to vacation with my family. We travel extensively through the West and have a strong interest in visiting remote places.




  • Ph.D., 1987, Stanford University
  • B.A., 1981, Carleton College
  • Joined Idaho State University Faculty in 1985

Sabbatical Leave

For the 2018-2019 academic year, I'll be a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Central Asia in Khorog, Tajikistan. In this role I'll teach science classes, develop the Earth & Environmental Science program, and study the spectacular geology of the Pamir Mountains.


Research Administration

From 2013-2018, I served as the ISU Site Leader for a large research program called MILES (Managing Idaho's Landscapes for Ecosystem Services). Funded by a five-year, $20M grant from NSF through their EPSCoR program, MILES involved 100+ participants at the three Idaho research universities. Faculty, post-docs, staff members, graduate students, and undergraduate students worked collaboratively to study the past, present and future growth of mid-sized cities, especially in relation to ecosystem services such as water supply, water quality, flood control, and recreation. Our interdisciplinary research teams involved ecologists, hydrologists, sociologists, historians, geographers, political scientists, and others in order to better analyze the coupled human and natural systems in this environment. The ISU MILES project is described in more detail here, and the statewide MILES project is described here.


Academic Administration

From 2010-2018, I was Associate Dean in the ISU College of Science & Engineering. Comprising ten different disciplines, CoSE is a vibrant college characterized by quality education and significant research success. In this position, I facilitated the overall growth and improvement of the College on behalf of its 2000 students, 120 faculty, and 40 staff. Activities included student recruitment, advising, and appeals; Department Chair supervision, mentoring, and collaborative management; development and interpretation of college analytics; curriculum reform; implementation of Proactive Advising protocols; and oversight of several college programs.

Geoscience Teaching

Over the past six years, I've occasionally taught Introductory Physical Geology (G1101) with the intent of attracting more Geology majors. And every Summer I direct part of Geology Field Camp, a 5-week intensive course located in central Idaho that teaches students to describe rocks and structures and especially to make geologic maps. Prior to 2012 I taught numerous graduate and undergraduate courses in structural geology and regional tectonics.

Geoscience Research - Structure and Regional Tectonics

I have a wide variety of interests in both brittlely and ductilely deformed rocks, in extensional and contractional systems, and in uplift and subsidence analysis. Some common themes: all research is rooted in field-based data collection such as geologic map making and structural analysis; structural analyses are generally map- and outcrop-scale, not smaller; both tectonic histories and deformation processes are studied with more emphasis on the former; and nearly all projects are completed with the help of other specialists - geochronologists, sedimentologists, petrologists, geomorphologists, or other structural geologists. More specifically, my research interests focused on the following projects.

Structural controls on gold mineralization -

new zealand alps

Epithermal and mesothermal mineral deposits involve fracture systems that facilitate fluid circulation and metal deposition.  My students and I have studied several gold deposits to characterize joint and fault geometries in relation to patterns of alteration and mineralization.  Examples include an Eocene diatreme system in central Wyoming, fractured folds in Nome Alaska, a metamorphic core complex in northeastern Washington, and a tilted fault block in northeastern Nevada.  Completing these studies requires high-resolution geologic and alteration mapping combined with high-resolution structural analyses.

Structural evolution of the Eastern Snake River Plain -

This is a late Cenozoic bimodal magmatic province that may mark passage over a continental hot spot. I'm interested in extension of the province by dike injection, in the crustal plumbing of magma, and subsidence of the province through time. Several theses addressed the subsidence history by studying the shoulders of the structural depression. Another thesis focused on the geometry and kinematics of dike injection on the ESRP.  Some geologic mapping, a lot of regional structural analysis, and simple flexural modeling are involved in these studies.

Ross Section of the Eastern Snake River Plain

Structural evolution of the northeastern Basin and Range Province -

The style and geometry of the Basin and Range in Idaho is similar to that elsewhere in the western US, but the timing is apparently quite closely tied to magmatism on the adjacent ESRP. Over the years we have worked to quantify the amount of extension throughout Idaho and especially to document the specific age of extension in each basin. Our goal is to determine the space-time pattern of extension, relate extension to nearby tectonism, and ultimately figure out what causes extension to occur. These type of studies involve geologic mapping, study of basin fill, and radiometric dating of volcanic rocks.

Structural evolution of the Cordilleran fold-thrust belt -

The Cretaceous Cordilleran fold-thrust belt in Idaho is called the Sevier thrust belt. Just west of the exposed thrust faults is a fairly broad region - the hinterland - that extends westward to the coeval Idaho batholith. Cretaceous deformation involved minor thrusting and a lot of folding, culminating in mylonitic shear zones along the edge of the batholith. I am interested in quantifying the amount and age of shortening and uplift associated with this tectonic event. Past projects have re-investigated supposed thrust faults (and usually eliminated them), characterized the age and amount of uplift along the edge of the batholith, and discovered map-scale recumbent folds. Another project involved thermochronology of uplifted thrust sheets to document the age and rate of thrusting. These projects generally involve remapping of mountainous country, detailed structural analysis, perhaps igneous/metamorphic petrography and sampling/analysis for age dating.

Former Post-Doctoral Advisees

Former Graduate Advisees and their Current Occupations

( 1 = DWR was primary advisor, 2 = DWR was secondary advisor)

Recent Publications

Keeley, J.A., and Rodgers, D.W., 2015, Testing the Bannock detachment breakaway: Negative results support moderate- to high-angle splay system and domino-style fault block rotation along the Valley fault, southern Portneuf Range, southeastern Idaho, U.S.A.: Rocky Mountain Geology, v. 50, p. 119-151. doi: 10:2113/gsrocky.50.2.119.

Anders, M.A., Rodgers, D.W., Hemming, S., Saltzman, J., Divinere, V., Hagstrum, J.T., Embree, G., Walter, R., 2014, A fixed sub-lithospheric source for the late Neogene track of the Yellowstone hotspot - implications of the Heise and Picabo Volcanic Fields:  Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 119, doi 10.1002/2013JB010483.

Thackray, G.D., Rodgers, D.W., and Streutker, D., 2013, Holocene scarp on the Sawtooth fault, central Idaho, USA, documented through lidar topographic analysis: Geology, doi:10:1130/G34095.1.

Vogl, J.J., Foster, D.A., Fanning, C.M., Kent, K.A., Rodgers, D.W., and Diedesch, T., 2012, Timing of extension in the Pioneer metamorphic core complex with implications for the spatial-temporal pattern of Cenozoic extension and exhumation in the northern U.S. Cordillera:  Tectonics, v. 31, doi 10.1029/2011TC002981.

Keeley, J.A., Rodgers, D.W., Link, P.K., and Cooley, S., 2011, Geologic map of the Thatcher Hill Quadrangle and portions of the Treasureton and Cottonwood Creek Quadrangles, Franklin, Bannock and Caribou Counties, Idaho: Idaho Geological Survey, Technical Report 11-2, scale 1:24,000.

Thackray, G.D., Rodgers, D.W., and Drabick, A., 2011, Neogene drainage development of Marsh and Portneuf Valleys, eastern Idaho, in Lee, J., and Evans, J.P., eds., Geologic field trips to the Basin and Range, Rocky Mountains, Snake River Plain, and Terranes of the U.S. Cordillera: Geological Society of America Field Guide 21, p. 89-101. doi:10:1130/2011.0021(04).

Price, K.B., and Rodgers, D.W., 2010, Geologic map of the north end of the Big Hole Mountains, Madison and Teton Counties, Idaho: Idaho Geological Survey Technical Report 10-2, scale 1:24,000.

Stewart, E.D., Link, P.K., and Rodgers, D.W., 2010, Geologic map of the Allan Mountain Quadrangle, Lemhi County, Idaho, and Ravalli County, Montana: Idaho Geological Survey Technical Report 10-1, scale 1:24,000.

Aly, M.H., Rodgers, D.W., Thackray, G.D., and Hughes, S.S., 2009, Recent tectonic and volcanic activity in the Eastern Snake River Plain and Island Park region inferred from SAR Interferometry: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 188, p. 297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.05.015.

McCurry, M., and Rodgers, D.W., 2009, Mass transfer along the Yellowstone hot spot track I: Petrologic constraints on the volume of mantle-derived magma: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 188, p. 86-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.04.001

Rodgers, D.W., and McCurry, M., 2009, Mass transfer along the Yellowstone hot spot track II: Kinematic constraints on the volume of mantle-derived magma: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research v. 188, p. 99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.05.014.

Aly, M.H., Rodgers, D.W., and Thackray, G.D., 2009, Differential SAR Interferometry to investigate surface deformation of the eastern Snake River Plain, Idaho, USA: Journal of Geology, v. 117, p. 103-108.  doi:  10.1086/595504.

Holmes, A.A.J., Rodgers, D.W., and Hughes, S.S., 2008, Kinematic analysis of fractures in the Great Rift, Idaho: implications for subsurface dike geometry, crustal extension, and magma dynamics: Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, B04202, doi: 10.1029/2006JB004782, 15p.

Recent Grants

2018-2019: Using earth science instruction to promote the development of mountain societies in Central Asia: $52,000 awarded to D.W. Rodgers from the J.W Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

2013-2018: Managing Idaho's Landscapes for Ecosystem Services (MILES): $20,000,000 awarded to the State of Idaho from the National Science Foundation EPSCoR RII Track 1 program (5 years). (Rodgers was Site Lead for Idaho State University and managed $4,029,000 over 5 years).

2012: Student investigation of ESRP volcanic rocks: $25,587 awarded to D.W. Rodgers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Falls office.

2010: Student investigation of ESRP volcanic rocks: $42,689 awarded to D.W. Rodgers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Falls office.

2010: Geologic mapping in the Rattlesnake Hills, Wyoming: $15,463 awarded to D.W. Rodgers and M. McCurry from Evolving Gold Corp.

2010: Geologic map of the western Wildhorse Detachment fault, south-central Idaho: $15,915 awarded to D.W. Rodgers from the U.S. Geological Survey EDMAP Program.

2009: Collaborative Research: Mid-crustal strain during extension: a field-based investigation of rheological transitions, doming, and vertical coupling: $40,111 awarded to D.W. Rodgers and P.K. Link from the National Science Foundation.

2008: Geologic Map of the southern Portneuf Range, southeastern Idaho: $14,131 awarded to D.W. Rodgers from the U.S Geological Survey EDMAP Program.

2008: Subsurface Geology Field Trip: $25,177 awarded to Rodgers, D.W., McCurry, M., and Welhan, J.A, from the Inland Northwest Research Alliance for the Spring 2008 field trip.