Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Dates: Sep 2014-Aug 2019
Summary: Understanding the ‘earthquake cycle’- the process by which earthquakes recurrently nucleate, grow and arrest - is fundamental for hazard management of earthquakes. I propose to investigate the coupling between fluid flow as it has the potential to explain important aspects of the earthquake cycle. I plan to improve the monitoring of active faults systems using GPS, seismology and remote-sensing, including also innovative sub-surface instrumentation based on MicroElectroMechanical Systems and optical fibre technologies. These technologies open promising and still unexplored avenues to investigate fault zone dynamics. We will analyse deformation and seismological data from in situ experiments of fluid injection and study naturally active systems where fault slip is clearly coupled with fluid circulation. We will elucidate the role of fluids, and other factors such as lithology, which might act independently or in conjunction, in promoting seismic and aseismic slip, and develop a mechanistic model of fault behaviour, allowing integration of geodetic and seismological observations, and accounting for coupling between deformation and fluid flow. This research will provide new insights on earthquake hazard, in particular in the context of induced seismicity, which is a pressing societal concern as the increasing demand for energy requires unconventional oil and gas exploitation, and environmental concerns are boosting interest in geothermal energy and carbon dioxide sequestration.