People

Faulty/Staff

Chris Marone - Marone’s research focuses primarily on earthquake physics, friction, and fault mechanics. Recent themes have included: 1) rate-state friction mechanics, fault healing and the application of laboratory derived friction laws to the spectrum of fault slip behaviors, 2) poromechanical properties of deforming rocks, 3) the role of dynamic stressing in frictional instability, 4) granular mechanics and the effect of particle properties on friction, jamming and unjamming, and 5) the role of shear fabric and clay mineralogy on the frictional strength and constitutive properties of fault rocks.
cjm38@psu.edu | Website

Demian Saffer - Dr. Saffer's research centers on (1) quantifying the role of fluids in geologic processes at the scale of the Earth’s crust, with a primary focus on fluid pressure, fluid flow, and fault physical properties along plate tectonic boundaries; and (2) understanding rock and fault zone deformation behavior, mechanical strength, and hydrologic properties. To investigate these processes, I combine laboratory measurements, computer-based numerical modeling, and field data collection. As part of these research efforts, my group is heavily involved in a range of scientific drilling projects to investigate plate boundary faulting; these include participation in the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) and continental drilling to sample across the active Alpine Fault in New Zealand, and and a leadership role in several Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) projects to drill offshore of Japan and New Zealand to study earthquakes, including the high slip area of the 2011 Tohoku M9 event, and slow slip along subduction megathrusts.
dsaffer@geosc.psu.edu | Website
Derek Elsworth - Derek's interests are in the areas of computational mechanics, rock mechanics, and in the mechanical and transport characteristics of fractured rocks, with application to geothermal energy, the deep geological sequestration of radioactive wastes and of CO2, unconventional hydrocarbons including coal-gas, tight-gas-shales and hydrates, and instability and eruption dynamics of volcanoes.
derek.elsworth@psu.edu | Website
Eliza Richardson - Eliza is an earthquake seismologist who studies slow slip events in subduction zones, volcano-earthquake interactions and induced seismicity. She is also involved in some other projects including educating rural adults about all sides of shale gas extraction activities and impacts, learning progressions in children, cognition biases in geospatial intelligence analysis, and baseball. She is the lead faculty member for PSU's M.Ed. in Earth Sciences program which is a master's degree program aimed at mid-career high school science teachers.
eur10@psu.edu | Website

Steven Swavely - Steve is responsible for maintaining the laboratory equipment and helping us develop new equipment. Steve works with our electrical systems, building electronics, hydraulic and high pressure pump service, and works with the machine shop. Our lab has a very active group that continually devleops new techniques and needs technical support. Our systems also require regular maintence, calibration, and development. In addition, an inventory of equipment and small parts is maintained, safety paperwork kept updated, and lab purchaching is done through Steve.
sls71@psu.edu

Post-Doctorial Researchers

Thibault Candela - The focus of my research is on the feedback between the hydro-mechanical properties of fault zones and earthquakes. A rupture event is controlled by fault zone properties such as fault zone geometry and fluid flow, and at the same time earthquakes will destroy geometrical asperities and redistribute the fluid. My current postdoctoral research consists of an experimental investigation of the effect of dynamic stressing associated to an earthquake on the permeability of a fractured rock. In addition, I am continuing the work of my PhD, focused on the study of the fault surface roughness and its relationship with earthquake mechanics. The objective is to experimentally investigate the role of the micro-roughness of faults on the friction.
txc32@psu.edu

Sabine den Hartog - Sabine’s research focuses on the frictional behaviour of subduction megathrust faults. By combining frictional shear experiments, microstructural investigations and microphysical modelling efforts, she aims to obtain a better understanding of the processes that control seismic versus aseismic and slow slip behaviour along megathrusts. In her current postdoctoral project, she utilizes a unique suite of natural megathrust rock samples, spanning P-T conditions from the trench to >300°C, obtained by drilling and from exhumed subduction paleo-décollements. Fault friction experiments are performed on these materials at their in-situ pressures and temperatures (i.e. in their natural “habitat”), using innovative slip boundary conditions. The friction data obtained will be used to calibrate existing microphysical models of gouge friction. These, in turn, provide key input for earthquake modelling studies.
s.denhartog@psu.edu

Graduate Students

Marco Scuderi - Marco’s research focuses on physicochemical processes combined with mechanical properties that control frictional properties of rocks. My current projects are: (1) investigate the evolution of permeability at the brittle-ductile transition of sedimentary rocks and how it can potentially control the seismogenic up-dip limit of subduction zones; (2) understand physicochemical processes that induce fault healing and how they are related with mechanical and frictional properties of rocks; (3) investigate how pore pressure variations during the seismic cycle control aseismic creep and dynamic propagation of rupture within granular material and how it can be applied to natural earthquakes; (4) understand the frictional properties of serpentinite with a particular attention on the relation with tremors, slow slip earthquakes and very low frequency earthquakes.
mms50@psu.edu | Website

Katie Olcott - Katie's research focuses on the physical and mechanical properties of rock and sediments pertaining to fault and earthquake mechanics. She uses laboratory measurements, numerical models, and analysis of geophysical logs towards this end. Current projects of interest are 1) understanding the state of stress in the Nankai Trough subduction zone by combining observations of borehole breakouts in resistivity-at-the-bit images with laboratory measurements of strength to constrain far field stress state; 2) laboratory measurements of how physical properties (porosity, permeability, sonic velocity, and resistivity) evolve with increased deformation and at failure in accretionary sediments over a range of effective stresses, 3) developing novel approaches using logging data (i.e. monitoring-while-drilling and logging-while-drilling) to understanding in situ sediment and rock properties, and 4) modeling borehole stability and failure under varying conditions using COMSOL Multiphysics.
kao12@psu.edu

Xiang Li - Xiang Li is currently working on a project modeling CO2 enhanced methane recovery in Barnett Shale reservoir with a bonus of CO2 sequestration. She is investigating the feasibility using CO2 as a stimulant to enhance gas recovery and also the controlled or mitigated CO2 early breakthrough. To study these possibilities, she runs different injection schedules in order to get an optimal plan with a considerable amount of enhanced gas recovery and also the minimum CO2 early breakthrough. During this process, the evolution of permeability and concentration, CO2 early breakthrough time, the amount of CO2 sequestrated, etc are also studied.
xzl111@psu.edu

Robert Valdez - Robert's research currently focuses on quantifying the mechanical properties, fluid flow properties, and the degree of consolidation along subduction zones and major transform plate boundaries. To investigate such properties, he runs constant-rate-of-strain and triaxial deformation experiments on samples cored during various IODP expeditions in the Kumano Basin, the Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) in New Zealand, and SAFOD in Parkfield, California. He will use data from his experiments combined with data gathered by colleagues to work towards understanding the depth dependent changes in these properties.
rdv116@psu.edu | Website

John Leeman - John works on the electrical properties of fault zones including the generation and conduction of electrical charge during material failure. Electrical charge on faults is believed to be responsible for a host of phenomena including earthquake lights, ULf radio emissions, and thermal anomalies before/during large earthquakes. He is also developing the capability to measure electrical resistivity of rocks during tri-axial deformation in the laboratory to compare with downhole measurements conducted in the field during drilling expeditions. John's other work includes the development of data processing and visualization techniques for Earth science data including inversion of experimental data and control of experimental apparatus. John's background is in combinations of experimental work, field work, and pure equipment development/engineering.
jrl1209@psu.edu | Website

Yipeng Zhang - My research interest primarily focuses on fluid flow in the geological processes and how pore-pressure is related to strain and stress in tectonic events. My previous work is to explore the role of the pore pressure in the induced seismicity due to fluid injection via numerical modeling. The research that I am currently working on is the sub-seafloor observatory science in the Nankai Trough in Japan. I am analyzing the long-term pore pressure data from December 2010 to January 2013 obtained through the IODP (International Ocean Drilling Program) ACORK (Advanced Circulation Obviation Retrofit Kits) to quantify permeability changes before and after seismic event, to characterize permeability at formation scale and to groundtruth the quantitative relation between the strain changes and pore pressure variations.
yxz176@psu.edu | Website

Yongkai Qiu - My research is focused on geomechanics of coal‐gas interactions, including evolution of coal permeability, sorption capacity , stress strain, etc. Currently, I am also conducting experiments both on coal and shale.
ronaldoqyk@gmail.com


Lab Alumni



H. Kitajima, Post-doctoral scholar, 2010-2012 (Saffer): Research scientist, AIST, Japan; will start position as Asst. Professor at Texas A&M in 2014.

R. Lauer, PhD, 2013 (Saffer): ABD; Post-doctoral researcher, Univ. California, Santa Cruz.

J. Alpern (MS, 2013), Geologist, Noble Energy Inc.

B. Carpenter, PhD, 2012 (co-advised by C. Marone & D. Saffer): Post-doctoral researcher, INGV, Rome.

D. King (postdoc, 2010-2012), DOE Geothermal Program

A. Sacks, MS, 2011 (Saffer): BP Exploration, Anchorage, AK.

S. Haines, Post-doctoral scholar, 2008-2010 (co-advised by D. Saffer & C. Marone): Chevron Technology Company.

I. Song, Post-doctoral Scholar, 2006-2010 (Saffer): Research scientist, Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM).

M. Ikari, PhD, 2010 (co-advised by D. Saffer & C. Marone): Post-doctoral scholar, Univ. Bremen.

A. Rathbun, PhD, 2010 (co-advised by C. Marone & D. Saffer): Post-doctoral researcher at Univ. Grenoble; now at Chevron Technology Company.

E. Perez, MS, 2010 (Saffer): ExxonMobil Exploration Company.

M. Ikari (PhD, 2010)

A. Rathbun (MS, 2006; PhD, 2010)

S. Haines (Postdoc, 2008-2010), Shell Exploration and Production

I. Faoro (MS, 2007; PhD. 2009), Post-doc, Durham University

A. Niemeijer (Postdoc, 2006-2009), Utrecht

M. Popek, MS, 2009 (Saffer): Consulting hydrogeologist, Rochester, NY.

J. Samuelson (MS, 2005; PhD, 2009), Utrecht

P. Fulton, PhD, 2008 (Saffer): Research Scientist, Univ. California, Santa Cruz.

R. Skarbek, MS, 2008 (Saffer): PhD candidate, Univ. Oregon.

H. Savage (PhD, 2007), Asst. Prof. Lamont, Columbia University

M. Knuth (MS, 2006), Geomechanist, Shell Upstream Americas

A. McKiernan, MS, 2005 (Saffer): Organic farmer, Robinette Farms, NE.

M. Boettcher (PhD, 2005), Prof. UNH; Website

T. Numelin (MS, 2005), Geoscientist, Rosetta Resources

A. Payne, MS, 2004 (Saffer): Consulting hydrogeologist, Laramie WY.

J. Anthony (MS, 2004), Geologist ExxonMobil Development Company

T. Hong (MS, 2004)

G. Spinelli, Post-doctoral scholar, 2003-2004 (co-advised by M. Underwood – Univ. Missouri and D. Saffer): Associate Professor, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology.

K. Frye (PhD, 2002); Staff Geophysicist, Shell Exploration and Production

K. Mair (Postdoc, 1997-2000), Prof. Dept. of Geosciences, The University of Oslo

E. Jensen (MS, 1999)

S. Karner (PhD, 1999), ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company

G. Chen (PhD, 1998)

M. Liu (Postdoc, 1995-1997)

M. Roy (PhD, 1997), Prof. of Geophysics, University of New Mexico