This academic program is supervised by Atilla Aydin and David D. Pollard. Over the past ten years students in this program have studied all of the common expressions of brittle deformation in the earth's crust including folds, faults, and fractures at length scales from a thin section to a mountain range. Recently, we have started to investigate fracturing and faulting of rocks under ductile conditions.
One thing that distinguishes our research is the successful integration of field observations with laboratory experiments and theoretical modeling. We encourage all of the students to motivate and constrain their research projects with appropriate mapping and field measurements. At the same time they use the tools of continuum and fracture mechanics to provide the essential theoretical basis for interpreting and understanding geologic structures quantitatively.
Although the makeup of the Structural Geology and Geomechanics Program changes from year to year, the group generally has 2-3 postdoctoral fellows and visiting researchers, 10-12 Ph.D. students, and 1-2 M.S. students. Having a group of this size provides an exciting atmosphere for research with many different, but related projects underway. Equally important, the group provides many knowledgeable people close at hand for support, encouragement, and constructive criticism. Stanford University offers a wide spectrum of supporting courses and seminars (including classes in geology, hydrogeology, geophysics, rock mechanics, petroleum engineering, materials science, applied mechanics, mathematics, and computer science) .
A list of the current research topics in the Structural Geology and Geomechanics program may be found under the research topics on our home page. You will notice that several topics on this list mention faulting. Over the past several years we have gathered field and seismic data on the geometry of faults and related structures. Using numerical models we have determined the stress, strain, and displacement fields associated with faults. Knowledge of these physical quantities combined with appropriate field observations enable us to understand how faults evolve in time and space. Also, these observations and models help us to evaluate the effects that faulting can have on the flow of groundwater and hydrocarbons, thus contributing to the solution of problems in hydrogeology and petroleum geology.
Our program is well-equipped for the collection and analysis of field data, including a total station, GPS receivers, graphics computers, and digital and analog cameras. We have a couple of high performance PCs to run BEM and FEM codes for geomechanical analysis. Each student is equipped with a desktop PC loaded with Microsoft Office, email software, and a variety of commercial applications for word processing, graphics, and data analysis.
Our philosophy aims to emphasize the fundamental aspects of structural geology and geomechanics, and to provide the very best training in the basic observational techniques and theoretical methods. We focus on the physical processes rather than a particular quadrangle or regional topic. This provides students with the fundamental knowledge and modern tools that can easily be utilized in different tasks encountered in the future.
Accordingly, our graduates are contributing professionally to a broad range of disciplines, including structural geology, tectonics, neotectonics, hydrogeology, geomorphology, volcanology, engineering geology, rock mechanics, geomechanics, and tectonophysics. They have an excellent track record in the job market, including academia, government laboratories, the petroleum industry, and consulting firms. You can read about their post-Stanford achievements in the "Some Recent Graduates" topic on our home page or by visiting their personal web sites.