What I want to find out:

My research group investigates the fundamental physical mechanisms accommodating deformation in fault zones. The essential components of these studies involve:

  • the materials involved,
  • the mechanical properties of those materials,
    their geometry and evolution as they deform, and
  • the stress inherent in that deformation.

Most studies investigate each of these topics separately out of the need to isolate and focus on essential relationships. My work attempts to integrate these different topics by modeling ancient geologic systems exposed at the surface or by direct observation of active systems at depth using boreholes.

Why we should care:

  • How the Earth works: The crust of the Earth is filled with fractures and these weaknesses govern its strength, its response to tectonic stresses/strains, and its hydrologic properties.
  • Energy: Faults and fractures provide vertically extensive, fast pathways for fluid flow and in some cases barriers. These fluids determine our access to energy resources such as hot water in Geothermal Systems, hydrocarbons in Petroleum systems, and the development of ore deposits. Geothermal is a particularly interesting source of energy for sustainable society:
  • Water and contamination: These same fractures determine our access to fresh water and the spread of contaminants in aquifers.
  • Informed Citizens: In an ever shrinking world, with growing population and ever greater demand on resources straining our environment, our votes have perhaps the greatest impact ever on sustaining our civilization.

Why Earth Science?

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v2016-12-12, © Nicholas C. Davatzes, 2016