Brendan McNulty

College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences

Department of Earth Science

Professor of Earth Science


Ph.D., Earth Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1994
M.S., Geological Sciences, San Diego State University, 1990
B.S., Marine Geology, San Diego State University, 1987


Full Professor, CSUDH, 2004-present
Department Chair, CSUDH, 2002-2006, 2011, 2017
Associate Professor, CSUDH, 2000-2004
Assistant Professor, CSUDH, 1997-2000
Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Santa Cruz, 1995-1997


EAR 312 Natural Disasters
EAR 376 Field Methods of Mapping
EAR 410 Environmental Geology
EAR 450 Plate Tectonics & Rock Cycle
GEO 310 Geomorphology


Dr. McNulty’s geological research was funded by five National Science Foundation (NSF) grants. The NSF-funded projects primarily centered on the evolution of continental magmatic arcs, the mechanics of pluton emplacement, the pressure-temperature-time development of ductile shear zones, and the formation of pseudotachylyte. The research was conducted in North America (Sierra Nevada, California), South America (Cordillera Blanca, Peruvian Andes), and Asia (Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province, China), and featured in top geology journals (cover photos below from Geology and GSA Bulletin). The work in Peru led to the CSUDH Award for Outstanding Research in 2006.


  • Geology coverSeptember 1998
  • Bulletin CoverJanuary 2000

McNulty subsequently focused on environmental issues, including a collaborative project with Dr. Weixing Tong (Los Angeles Water Board). Their work centered on training undergraduate and graduate students in hydrogeology, with a specific focus on the contamination of groundwater by gasoline oxygenates (notably MTBE: methyl tertiary-butyl ether). This project - funded by the NSF’s Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG) program - provided students hands-on experience with a "real world" environmental problem, financial support while attending college, and training that led to jobs. 

McNulty also collaborated on several externally funded projects focused on K-12 science teacher education (NSF-Urban Systemic Initiative; NASA-ALERT; Los Angeles Annenberg Math–Science Literacy Project). His latest work centers on developing field trip guides for non-geologists. As an example, Los Angeles citizens might be interested in the geology behind Palos VerdesPeninsula: =

Google Scholar index:


McNulty, B.A., 1995, Shear zone development during magmatic arc construction: the Bench Canyon shear zone, central Sierra Nevada, California, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 107: 1094-1107.

 McNulty, B.A., 1995, Pseudotachylyte developed in the semi-brittle and brittle regimes, Bench Canyon shear zone, central Sierra Nevada, Journal of Structural Geology, 17: 1507-1521.

 McNulty, B. A., and Farber, D. L., 2002, Active detachment faulting above the Peruvian flat slab, Geology, 30: 567-570.

 McNulty, B.A., Farber, D.L., Wallace, G., Lopez, R., 1998, Role of plate kinematics and plate-slip-vector partitioning in continental magmatic arcs: Evidence from the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, Geology, 26: 827-830.

 McNulty, B.A., Tobisch O.T., Cruden, A.R., and Gilder, S., 2000, Multi-stage emplacement of the Mt. Givens pluton, central Sierra Nevada, California, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 112: 119-135.

 McNulty, B.A., Tong, W., and Tobisch, O.T., 1996, Assembly of a dike-fed magma chamber: the Jackass Lakes pluton, central Sierra Nevada, California, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 108: 926-940.

 Gilder, S. A., and McNulty, B. A., 1999, Tectonic exhumation and tilting of the Mount Givens pluton, central Sierra Nevada, California, Geology, 27: 919-922.

 Gilder S., Rousse, S., Farber, D., McNulty, B., Sempere, T., Torres, V., 2003, Post-Middle Oligocene origin of paleomagnetic rotations in Upper Permian to Lower Jurassic rocks from northern and southern Peru, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 210: 233-248.

 Girty, Yoshinobu, Wracher, Girty, Bryan, Skinner, McNulty, Bracchi, Harwood, Hanson, 1993, U-Pb zircon geochronology of the Emigrant Gap composite pluton, northern Sierra Nevada, California: Implications for the Nevadan orogeny, Pacific Section SEPM, 323-332.

 Giovanni, M., Horton, B., Garzione, C., McNulty, B., Grove, M., 2010, Extensional basin evolution in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru: Stratigraphic and isotopic records of detachment faulting and orogenic collapse in the Andean hinterland, Tectonics 29: TC6007, 1-21

 Ramos, V., McNulty, B., 2002, Flat-slab subduction in the Andes (journal introduction), Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 15: 1-2.

 Rousse, S., Gilder, S., Farber, D., McNulty, B., and Torres, V., 2002, Paleomagnetic evidence for rapid vertical-axis rotation in the Peruvian Cordillera at ca. 8 Ma, Geology, 30: 75-78.

 Rousse, S., Gilder S., Farber, D., McNulty, B., Patriat, P., Torres, V., and Sempere, T., 2003, Paleomagnetic tracking of mountain building in the Peruvian Andes since 10 Ma, Tectonics, 20, no. 5.

 Tobisch, O.T., McNulty, B.A., and Vernon, R.H., 1997, Microgranitoid enclave swarms in granitic plutons, central Sierra Nevada, California, Lithos, 40: 321-339.

 Tobisch, O.T., Saleeby, J.B., Renne, P.R., McNulty, B.A. & Tong, W., 1995, Variations in deformation fields during development of a large volume magmatic arc, central Sierra Nevada, California, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 107: 148-166.