Water is ubiquitous in the Earth’s crust. It has first order effects on the dynamics of faults: fluid pressure tends to weaken tectonic faults, and long-term fluid-rock chemical interactions tend to transform fault rocks (notably by sealing and healing them). Faulting also has feedbacks into the water cycle in the crust, by focussing fluid flow.
The goal of this project is to study the coupling between fluid flow and brittle rock deformation, by conducting high pressure laboratory deformation experiments and theoretical modelling. The dynamics of faulting in laboratory samples can be tracked by in situ instrumentation such as acoustic emission monitoring, and novel data processing techniques will be implemented to improve such monitoring methods. Mathematical modelling of fluid pressure diffusion and coupling with mechanical deformation will be used to quantitatively understand the role of fluids in the dynamics of fault slip, and upscale the laboratory results to the natural scale.