Thomas J. Kalakay

Contact Information

Professor of Geology
Holder of the O.A. & Esther T. Seager Chair of Geology
B.Sc. Montana State University - Bozeman
M.Sc., Ph.D. University of Wyoming
Tyler Hall 305


As a native of the northern Rockies, Dr. Kalakay grew up with an innate interest in the mountains and landscapes that surrounded him. He spent much of his youth and early adult years exploring mountainous regions of the western U.S. by climbing, skiing and long distance trail running. Until the age of 29, Dr. Kalakay worked in the construction industry on projects ranging from custom homes to nuclear power plants. 

As a late-comer, non-traditional student at Montana State University-Bozeman, he was immediately drawn to the field of geology and from his first class he never looked back. Dr. Kalakay went on to the University of Wyoming where he completed a master’s degree and a Ph.D. In his master’s thesis Dr. Kalakay spent three field mapping seasons studying the tectonic and magmatic evolution of the fairly famous Ivrea Zone in the Italian Alps. In his Ph.D. he studied the interplay between arc magmatism and development of the Late Cretaceous fold and thrust belt in western Montana. After completion of his Ph.D., Dr. Kalakay held teaching positions at Montana State University-Bozeman and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He currently teaches as a summer adjunct for the University ofg Houston Geology Field Camp. He has been at Rocky Mountain College since Fall 2004, where he is happy teaching in his familiar Rocky Mountain homeland. 

Dr. Kalakay’s research interests center on the thermal evolution and physical construction of continental crust. This research emphasizes the role of magmatism during structural growth and eventual collapse of mountain belts, such as the Montana Rockies or the Italian Alps. Field mapping and structural analyses serve as the fundamental framework for all of his studies. His research projects also require expertise in igneous petrology, metamorphic petrology, thermochronology, and reflection seismology. He has many ongoing research projects that include: studying a large-scale shear zone in the Beartooth Range that likely represents an Archean age continental collision, mapping a unique suite of “leopard dikes” that served as the feeder system to the famous Stillwater complex, studying crustal collapse mechanisms in the Anaconda metamorphic core complex of western Montana, and the relationship between sedimentation and tectonics in the Sevier thrust belt of Montana. All of his current research involves spending time in the mountains of Montana. Dr. Kalakay’s motto: If it’s not a beautiful place to work, I’m not going there!

Courses Taught

  • GEO 101/104: Fundamentals of Geology (lecture and laboratory)
  • GEO180: Natural Hazards/Disasters
  • GEO411: Structural Geology and Tectonics
  • GEO204: Earth Materials I (Mineralogy)
  • GEO305: Earth Materials II (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology)
  • GEO343: Field Methods for Geoscientists
  • GEO350: Field Geology (offered at the University of Houston)
  • GEO380 Active Tectonics and Volcanism of the Yellowstone System
  • GEO490 Geology Capstone—Regional Tectonics

Selected Publications

  • Thomas J. Kalakay, David A. Foster, and Jeffrey D. Lonn, 2014, Polyphase collapse of the Cordilleran hinterland: The Anaconda metamorphic core complex of western Montana—The Snoke symposium field trip, GSA Field Guides, 37, p. 145-159, doi:10.1130/2014.0037(07)
  • Ferré, E.C., Galand, O., Montanari, D. and Kalakay, T.J. 2012, Granite magma migration and emplacement along thrusts. International Journal of Earth Science, DOI 10.1007/s00531-012-0747-6
  • Foster, D.A., Grice, W.C., Kalakay, Thomas J., 2010, Extension of the Anaconda metamorphic core complex: 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology and implications for Eocene tectonics of the northern Rocky Mountains and the Boulder batholith: Lithosphere, Volume: 2, Issue: 4, p. 232-2
  • Kalakay, Thomas J., An overview of thin-skinned crustal shortening in the vicinity of Dillon, Montana, USA, 2007, Northwest Geology, v. 36, p. 67-73.
  • Foster, D.A., P.T. Doughty, T.J. Kalakay, C.M Fanning, S. Coyner, W.C. Grice, and J.J. Vogl, 2007, Kinematics and timing of exhumation of Eocene metamorphic core complexes along the Lewis and Clark fault zone, northern Rocky Mountains, USA, in Till, A., Roeske, S., Sample, J., and Foster, D.A., eds., Exhumation along major continental strike-slip systems: Geological Society of America Special Paper 434, p. 205-229.
  • Kalakay, T. J., Foster, D.A., Thomas, R.A., 2003, Geometry, kinematics and timing of extension in the Anaconda extensional terrane, western Montana, Northwest Geology, v. 32, p. 42-72.
  • Quick, James, E., Sinigoi, Silvano, Snoke, Arthur, W., Kalakay, Thomas, J., and Mayer, Adriano, Peressini, Gabriella, 2003, Geologic map of the southern Ivrea-Verbano zone, northwest Italy, USGS Geologic Investigations Series, I-2776, scale 1:25,000.
  • Lonn, J. D., McDonald, C., Lewis, R. S., Kalakay T., J., O'Neill, J. M., Berg, R. B., and Hargrave, P., 2003, Preliminary geologic map of the Philipsburg 30' x 60' quadrangle, western Montana: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Open File Report MBMG 483, scale 1:100,000.
  • Kalakay, Thomas J., John, B.E., and Lageson, D.R., 2001, Fault-controlled pluton emplacement in the Sevier fold-and-thrust belt, SW Montana, Journal of Structural Geology, 23, 1151-1165.
  • Lageson, D.R., Schmitt, J.G., Kalakay, T.J., Horton, B.K., Burton, B.R., 2001, Influence of late Cretaceous magmatism on the Sevier orogenic wedge, western Montana, Geology, v. 29, 723-726.
  • Snoke, A.W., and Kalakay, T.J., 1998, Mesoscopic kinematic indicators in a melt-rich shear zone, in Snoke, A.W., Tullis, J., and Todd, V.R., eds. Fault-related rocks: A Photographic Atlas: Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton university Press, p. 442-443.
  • Snoke, A.W., Kalakay, T.J., Quick, J.E., and Sinigoi, S., 1998, Development of a deep-crustal shear zone in response to syntectonic intrusion of mafic magma into the lower crust, Ivrea-Verbano zone, Italy: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v 166, p. 31-45.


  • Kalakay, Thomas J., Foster, David A., Lonn, Jeffrey, 2004, Growth and collapse of the Sevier orogenic wedge: New evidence from the Cordillera of western Montana, Geological Society of America Rocky Mountain Cordilleran section meeting, Boise Idaho.
  • Kalakay, T.J., Foster, D.A., Lonn, J., 2003, Geometry and kinematics of exhumation along the Lewis and Clark strike-slip system: Anaconda extensional terrain west-central Montana. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Seattle Annual Meeting, v. 35, 159-2.
  • Foster, D.A., Doughty, P.T., and Kalakay, T.J., 2003 Exhumation and kinematics of Eocene metamorphic core complexes along the Lewis and Clark strike-slip system, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Seattle Annual Meeting, v. 35, 195-2.
  • Kalakay, Thomas J., Lageson, David R., and John, Barbara E., 1998, Shallow level synkinematic batholith emplacement within fold-and-thrust belts: Geological Association of Canada/NUNA Research Conference, Canadian Tectonics Group 18th Annual Meeting, Evolution of Structures in Deforming Rocks.
  • Kalakay, Thomas J. and Snoke, A.W., 1996, Ductile faulting, folding, and layer-parallel melt migration associated with deep crustal mafic magmatism: an example from the Ivrea-Verbano zone, northern Italy, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 26, no. 7, p. A-133.

Student (undergraduate) Abstracts

  • Pauli, Skyler, Kalakay, Thomas. J., Wolfe, Michael, W., 2003, Exposing the brittle-plastic transition in a detachment system, Anaconda extensional terrane, western Montana, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Rocky Mountain Section, Spring meeting, Durango, CO.
  • Wolfe, Michael, W., Kalakay, Thomas. J., Pauli, Skyler, 2003, Extensional folds in the Anaconda extensional terrane, western Montana, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Rocky Mountain Section, Spring meeting, Durango, CO.
  • Mack, T., Kalakay, T.J., and John, B.E., 1999, Fault zone characteristics controlling fluid flow and pluton emplacement within the Sevier fold-and-thrust belt of southwest Montana, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, p. 39.


Rocky Mountain College
Eaton Hall
1511 Poly Drive
Billings, MT 59102