Experimental Rock Mechanics Projects

Current SGT postdoctoral, doctoral, and masters researchers are working on the projects detailed below, but be sure to check out all of the excellent research occurring in the Rock Physics and Mechanics Laboratory.

Experimental investigations of mafic blueschist rheology

The subduction interface controls major subduction zone processes, including plate speeds and steady-state and tranisent slip. Because blueschist facies rocks can occupy the subduction interface along a wide range of depths, the rheology of mafic blueschists in general, and glaucophane in particular, can play an important role in these large-scale processes. Blueschist rheology is, however, poorly constrained. We are conducting deformation experiments on natural epidote blueschists from northern California and on glaucophane aggregates separated from samples from Syros, Greece using the Griggs Rig at the Rock Physics and Mechanics Laboratory. We are characterizing deformation mechanisms and developing flow laws for glaucophane using a combination of petrographic techniques, EBSD, and deformation mechanics analyses.

Team Members & Collaborators: Lonnie Hufford, Leif Tokle, Whitney Behr

Paleomagnetic properties across the western Gotthard massif

The newly built “Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geoenergies” is a 5.2 km long tunnel that provides an unparalleled, strike-perpendicular transect through sequences of gneiss and granite. We are investigating the gradient in magnetic properties across the strike of the regional metamorphic fabric. We will connect paleomagnetism, structural geology and petrology to decipher the extent of tectonic overprint in paleomagnetic measurements.

Team Members & Collaborators: Claudio Madonna, Jonas Ruh, Markus Rast

Previous projects in experimental rock mechanics

Strain localization and grain growth in the mantle. On-going plate tectonics relies on maintaining strain localization in the lithospheric mantle below plate boundary faults. Experimental deformation of olivine has helped to map out olivine flow laws at relevant pressures and temperatures, but predictions from some flow laws do not address how strain localization is maintained in highly deformed olivine. Former Ph.D. student Pamela Speciale studied deformation mechanisms in highly deformed olivine and investigated the effect of grain growth and mechanisms for strain localization.