Geophysics and Geomechanics

Geophysics and Geomechanics

The geophysics group performs research on problems that span a multitude of spatial and temporal scales. Research is focused on problems in solid earth geophysics including mantle upwelling, convection, lithospheric structure, regional tectonics, earthquake mechanics, crustal deformation, ice physics, and geomechanics. Our faculty specialize in a number of techniques including seismology, analytic and numerical modeling, data analysis, inverse methods, and space geodesy. Find out more about geophysics at UO here



Brittany Erickson profile picture

Brittany Erickson

Brittany conducts research in computational mathematics and physics, applied predominantly to problems in the natural sciences. Currently, Brittany develops high-performance methods for earthquake cycle simulations and volcanic eruptions. These projects are funded by the National Science Foundation and the Southern California Earthquake Center. Brittany co-leads the SCEC-SEAS (Sequences of Earthquakes and Aseismic Slip) code-verification project.


Emilie Hooft profile picture

Emilie Hooft

Emilie studies how magma is transported from Earth’s mantle to the surface at volcanoes and the interaction of mantle plumes with ocean ridges. Emilie also investigates the structures that control rupture segmentation at the Cascadia subduction zone. Emilie leads research expeditions to the Cascadia margin, oceanic spreading centers, and volcanic hotspots. Emilie collects and analyzes dense geophysical data and uses inverse modeling on high performance computers.


Eugene Humphreys profile picture

Eugene Humphreys

Eugene works on upper mantle seismology, lithospheric dynamics, tectonics, and geodynamics.


Leif Karlstrom profile picture

Leif Karlstrom

Leif works on problems in volcanology, petrology, geodynamics, glaciology, and geomorphology. Active projects include the eruption cycle, melt focusing and crustal thickening in arcs, the Columbia River Flood Basalts, landscape evolution in volcanic environments, supraglacial hydrology, unsteady behavior in volcanic eruptions, and the interpretation of volcanic seismicity. Leif's research involves a combination of theoretical and numerical models, field measurements, and laboratory experiments. 


Diego Melgar profile picture

Diego Melgar

Diego is a seismologist and a geodesist and his lab's research focuses on large earthquakes. Diego is most interested in the science behind these big events, what makes these them tick? By learning about their physics we aim to understand the hazards they produce which affect society, namely, strong shaking and tsunamis. With this basic knowledge we take the extra step and work on the technology behind early warning systems to issue alerts in advance of these hazards. To pursue these interests we observe and measure earthquakes and we create models.




Alan Rempel profile picture

Alan Rempel

Alan's research is directed towards understanding the fundamental interactions that govern a broad spectrum of natural processes. Much of this work centers on the fluid mechanics, solid mechanics and thermodynamics that control interactions between solids and fluids, especially near the melting transition. Alan is particularly interested in problems that span a range of length and time scales, often motivating the development of homogenized models to translate from the microscopic distances over which the controlling physical interactions operate, to the much larger scales at which their effects are observed. Current work is focused on solid-fluid interactions along faults during earthquakes and slow-slip events; the controls on glacier sliding that result in sediment entrainment and landscape evolution; the development of gas hydrate anomalies and their implications for submarine slope stability and pockmark formation; multiphase shear and transitions between distributed (viscous) and localized (frictional) deformation mechanisms, with application to fault mechanics and solidifying lava flows; segregation and transport processes during solidification and melting in porous media on Earth and Mars; and passive strategies for thermal storage and timed heat release in the built environment.


Valerie Sahakian profile picture

Valerie Sahakian

Valerie studies a variety of things relating to seismic hazard. Some work focuses on source characterization, to image faults and understand the hazards they pose. Other work estimating ground-motion, from statistical models to numerical simulations - for constraining seismic hazard, as well as learning more about earthquake source processes.


Amanda Thomas profile picture

Amanda Thomas

Amanda is interested in the physical properties of faults, seismotectonics, crustal deformation, and the mechanics of earthquakes and faulting. Amanda's group uses a variety of tools, such as moment tensor inversion, waveform modeling, analysis of seismicity catalogs, and numerical models of fault friction to approach research questions.


Douglas Toomey profile picture

Douglas Toomey

Doug's lab research focus is on tectonic plate boundaries and hotspots, where we have pioneered the use of ocean bottom seismology to study earthquake and volcanic processes. Doug's group has led scientific expeditions in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean oceans, the Galápagos Archipelago, and the Oman ophiolite. Study sites include spreading centers (e.g., East Pacific Rise, Juan de Fuca Ridge, Mid-Atlantic Ridge), hotspots (Iceland, Galápagos), continental volcanoes (Newberry, Oregon), and more recently subduction zones (Cascadia Initiative, Santorini Volcano).  Doug uses a wide variety of seismic methods (body and surface wave tomography, seismicity, ambient noise) and is actively developing imaging methods for strongly heterogeneous and anisotropic media. Doug's research has been published widely in Nature, Science, Geology, Nature Geoscience, and specialty journals.


Meredith Townsend profile picture

Meredith Townsend

Meredith studies magma transport and storage through the earth’s crust by integrating geologic field observations, geophysical volcano monitoring data, and numerical modeling. Specific projects focus on the evolution of magma reservoirs in the crust, the propagation of magmatic dikes, and mechanical links between magmatism, tectonism, and surface processes.