Brittle deformation, Earthquakes and faulting.


We study brittle deformation of the Earth and the underlying physics controlling it. This is done in the lab, in numerical modeling, in the field and anayltically. We investigtae the dynamics involved in complexity internal to earthquakes and to populations of earthquakes and faults. Faults and earthquakes spontaneously produce populations which obey fractal size and spatial characteristics. This behavior, which cannot be predicted from the physics of the individual faults or earthquakes, represents a type of complexity known as self-organized criticality. In a recent work Applied Physics graduate student Chrysanthe Spyropoulos, working with L-DEO's Chris Scholz and Bruce Shaw, has been developing a dynamic numerical model of a population of cracks to try to develop a better understanding of the underlying physics of this behavior. This builds on earlier work by Shaw on Burridge-Knopoff type models of earthquakes that do exhibit this type of scaling.

This theoretical work complements an observational study by DEES graduate student Anu Gupta who is studying fault-fault interactions in fault populations, based on field work in North Carolina and Djibouti.

Christopher H. Scholz , Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Head of CNES

Bruce Shaw , Storke-Doherty Lecturer, Earth and Environmental Sciences