Our current work is subdivided into three primary areas: (1) Dynamic rock mechanics, (2) Numerical modeling of faulting and crustal deformation, and (3) Math and Science Education.
1. Dynamic Rock Mechanics: Rock mechanics is a mature field in the geosciences, having developed into its modern form in the 1940s-60s. The extension of rock mechanics into the dynamic regime is much more recent, tracing back only to the late 1990s and 2000s. This is an essential advance for understanding rock response under fast, catastrophic deformation regimes such as earthquakes, landslides, projectile impacts, as well as mining and tunneling, and this field is in its infancy. My current NSF-CAREER award and Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) projects are focused on experimental analysis of rocks under these extreme conditions, and the specific tasks of conducting field work to address the challenges of scaling experiments to the nature setting. The relevance and timeliness of these topics are reflected in the new SCEC 5 research priorities, namely the focus question of “What is the role of off-fault inelastic deformation on strain accumulation, dynamic rupture, and radiated seismic energy?”
a. Off-fault inelastic deformation
b. Rock Friction
c. Long Runout Landslides
2. Crustal Deformation in Subduction Zone Settings
In the modern world of earthquake and volcano hazards, we use remote observations such as seismic data and earth-surface velocity fields from global positioning satellites to learn about activity of the earth’s crust in tectonically active regions prone to earthquakes and volcanoes. I am working with collaborators to develop new numerical tools to relate remote measurements to crustal deformation processes in the subsurface, and we are applying these tools to solve problems related to active tectonics, volcanic hazards, and to economic geology in the Southern Volcanic Zone in Chile.
a. Slip partitioning and static stress triggering in convergent margins
b. Development of new computational approaches
3. Math and Science Education
This is a new area of research in our group, but it is motivated by my experience of recognizing a love of math AFTER discovering mathematical applications in the Earth Sciences. Along with collaborators in Earth Science at Ohio State and Mathematics at the University of Texas at Arlington, we are embarking on a project in which we are investigating new modes of teaching introductory mathematical courses within the context of Earth Science research problems. The main premise is that the Earth Sciences represent all of STEM – most Earth Scientists these days are applied physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers, and mathematicians. We hypothesize that teaching of basic mathematics courses in the context of Earth Science research problems will empower beginning STEM students by placing abstract mathematical concepts in a scientific context at a critical transition, which constitutes statistically a major stumbling block for many STEM-intended majors. At the same time, it will expose students early in their college experience to geoscience as a potential major. This research is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Pathways into Geoscience (IUSE: GEOPATHS) program.
Specific Applications: Read more here.