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Mechanical Interactions Between Water and the Solid Earth: from Quasi-Static Geodetic Deformation to Dynamic Fault Slip


Larochelle, Stacy (2022) Mechanical Interactions Between Water and the Solid Earth: from Quasi-Static Geodetic Deformation to Dynamic Fault Slip. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/2r5a-9277.


Mechanical interactions between Earth's solid interior and its hydrosphere are central to many geophysical problems of crucial societal importance: Changing conditions in the global water cycle deform the solid Earth; the groundwater storage capacity of aquifer systems is controlled by its interaction with geological materials; and crustal water - either natural occurring or added through anthropogenic activities - affects earthquakes and fault slip processes. In this thesis, we investigate some of these interactions by harnessing recent developments in the fields of satellite geodesy, statistical data analysis and elastodynamic earthquake modelling. We start by developing a procedure to identify and extract seasonal deformation signals associated with hydrological loading of the solid Earth from geodetic time series in Chapter 1. In Chapters 2 and 3, we consider the examples of the Ozarks Plateau (central United States) and Sacramento Valley (California) to establish a methodology for characterizing poroelastic deformation arising from groundwater variations with space-based geodesy. Then, in Chapter 4, we develop a model to simulate fault slip due to crustal water injections and calibrate it against a well-instrumented field experiment on a natural fault. We conclude by deriving a theoretical understanding of these fault slip simulations by considering the simple case of a fixed-length pressurized zone in Chapter 5. Overall, our work provides key insights for extracting and using different sources of hydrogeodetic signals as well as for modeling and understanding fluid-induced fault slip processes, which is becoming increasingly important in a world faced with water scarcity, a changing climate and an increased reliance on groundwater and geoenergy resources.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:hydrogeodesy; fluid-induced fault slip; hydrological loading; aquifer mechanics; poroelasticity; induced seismicity; earthquake nucleation; rate-and-state friction; numerical modeling; independent component analysis; groundwater monitoring;
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geophysics
Awards:Demetriades-Tsafka-Kokkalis Prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection, 2020.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Avouac, Jean-Philippe (co-advisor)
  • Lapusta, Nadia (co-advisor)
Group:Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG)
Thesis Committee:
  • Ross, Zachary E. (chair)
  • Clayton, Robert W.
  • Avouac, Jean-Philippe
  • Lapusta, Nadia
Defense Date:26 May 2022
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)Postgraduate Scholarship (PGSD-3-517078-2018)
King Abdullah City for Science and Technology (KACST)UNSPECIFIED
NSF-IUCRC Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of GeohazardsGMG-4.1, GMG-4.2
Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States (OST)2019-2020 STEM Chateaubriand Fellowship
NSFEAR 1151926
NSFEAR 1724686
French government (UCAJEDI Investments in the Future) managed by the National Research AgencyANR-15-IDEX-01
Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP)IPGP contribution #4232
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05302022-071239478
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription article associated with Chapter 1 article associated with Chapter 2 article associated with Chapter 4
Larochelle, Stacy0000-0001-6161-5605
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14651
Deposited By: Stacy Larochelle
Deposited On:03 Jun 2022 21:22
Last Modified:28 Oct 2022 20:05

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