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Rock Physics and Geomaterials Lab

Advancing the understanding of rock properties and geomaterials for societal benefit.

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The Rock Physics and Geomaterials Lab studies rocks and material resources to marshal environmental solutions for fluid injection and storage in the Earth’s underground, energy sources, and manufacturing processes.

We study the physical and mechanical properties of rocks, and the derived porous geomaterials. We conduct laboratory experiments that simulate Earth processes, and integrate measurements as well as imaging techniques to quantify textural and physical changes.


Research Focus Areas 

Flow Diagram of earth materials and processes
Understanding the Earth’s Subsurface

Earth Processes and Rock Properties

Studying rock physics and chemistry serves as the bedrock of our comprehension of Earth — encompassing the materials comprising it, the properties derived from its structure, and the ongoing processes that cyclically exchange energy and matter across various environments. Our research zeroes in on analyzing how rock properties respond to processes occurring within the Earth’s crust. These encompass chemical, mechanical, and thermal stimuli replicated in laboratory settings, aimed at mimicking the solid-fluid interactions perpetually shaping the evolution of our planet.

Geoengineering the subsurface diagram
Storage of Fluids and Waste

Geo-engineering the Subsurface

In the evolving energy landscape, fluid injection and storage play pivotal roles in combating greenhouse gas emissions and fulfilling the persistent energy needs of consumers. Carbon dioxide injection technologies are increasingly explored to mitigate emissions by repurposing and permanently mineralizing CO2 within rocks and geomaterials. Moreover, subsurface rocks offer storage potential for renewable energy, helping to stabilize supply amidst natural fluctuations. However, the successful deployment of these technologies requires rigorous experimentation and geophysical monitoring to ensure both effectiveness and safety, thus fostering broader public acceptance.

Geomimicry Diagram
Geomaterials Inspired by Earth Processes


Geomimetics seeks to understand the intersection of Earth's Chemistry and Mechanics for Sustainable Engineering. Exploring how Earth conducts chemistry and how its chemical processes influence mechanics has become crucial for engineering endeavors that leverage Earth’s inherent capabilities and its capacity to generate sustainable materials. Underground reactions utilize environmentally friendly rock materials and potent solvents like water, particularly effective under hydrothermal conditions. Our research delves into the micro- and nanostructures of rocks and their associated processes, aiming to optimize Earth's resources and functionalities sustainably, thereby propelling civilization forward.

Flow stimulation in tight rocks diagram
Shale and Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Flow Stimulation in Tight Rocks

Energy extraction from tight shale and geothermal reservoirs is among the solutions that can help further mitigate GHG emissions 
from our energy system. Nonetheless, fluid production requires technologies capable of stimulating sufficient permeability of natural geologic formations without causing harm to the surrounding environment. We are studying the controls on fluid flow development through different types of stimulation practices with the aim of making the fullest use of the rock reservoir volumes while reducing induced seismicity.

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