Geology and Geological Engineering

Dr. Kurt Katzenstein
Understanding Earth’s Dynamic Processes
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Dr. Kurt Katzenstein

Ph.D. (2008), University of Nevada, Reno
Associate Professor, Geological Engineering
Geology and Geological Engineering
South Dakota School of Mines
Rapid City, SD 57701
phone 605-394-2346

Research synopsis

Dynamic processes on Earth’s surface, both natural and anthropogenic, often impact society in negative ways. It is imperative that we understand the causes of these processes and the potential impacts they can have on public safety and the general well-being of important resources and infrastructure. We use remote sensing techniques, field investigation techniques, and laboratory testing to insure that these processes are better identified and understood. These methods include:

  • Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR):
    Multiple Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) scenes acquired from satellites at different times are systematically interfered in order to measure sub-centimeter scale ground surface deformation over large (>10,000 square kilometers) areas. Potential targets include natural deformation events including those resulting from tectonics/seismic events, volcanic activity, etc. Anthropogenic sources include surface response to groundwater, gas, or oil production, etc.

  • Natural Hazard Assessment:
    This research includes investigations of natural hazards such as landslides (in both soil and rock), rockfall, land subsidence, etc. These studies include both site investigation and laboratory testing techniques. Our geotechnical lab includes equipment for testing both soil and rock including Schmidt Hammers, a portable point-load device, a computer-controlled soil direct-shear box, a computer-controlled rock direct-shear box, and a newly acquired rock strength load frame (managed jointly with Mining Engineering).

contact: Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, 501 E. Saint Joseph St., SDSMT, Rapid City, SD 57701
phone: (605)394-2346 / email: