Researching the mechanics of earthquakes and faulting
My research involves laboratory experiments, field observations and numerical
modelling to investigate the physics of faults and earthquakes.
Deformation bands are small offset faults
typically occurring in clean high porosity sandstone. They can dramatically reduce porosity
and permeability as well as influencing future deformation. Some spectacular examples are
seen in Utah, USA. (Field photos courtesy of Rich
Schultz, University of Nevada at Reno).
High resolution laboratory friction experiments
can help us better understand the mechanical and microstructural evolution of faults. I
have worked with Chris Marone's group at Penn State
University Rock Mechanics Laboratoy, deforming natural and idealised granular material to
investigate the micromechanical processes that control the friction of faults.
Numerical modelling of faults give us an opportunity to watch dynamic microscale interactions
that may be difficult to observe directly in the field or during laboratory experiments. I currently
collaborate with Steffen Abe (RWTH Aachen University) and Jim Hazzard (RocScience Ltd)
on 3D discrete particle simulations of sheared
granular fault zones.