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Untangling the Heat Paradox Along Major Faults

03-12-21

Nadia Lapusta, Lawrence A. Hanson, Jr., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and graduate student Valère Lambert, seek to explain the size of the forces acting on "mature faults"—long-lived faults along major plate boundaries like the San Andreas Fault in California—in an effort to better understand the physics that drive the major earthquakes that occur along them. Understanding the physics that govern major earthquakes on different types of faults will help generate more accurate forecasts for earthquake threats. "We have a lot of data from large earthquakes along subduction zones, but the last really major earthquakes along the San Andreas were the magnitude-7.9 Fort Tejon quake in 1857 and the magnitude-7.9 San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, both of them before the age of modern seismic networks," Lapusta says. [Nature article] [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta Valère Lambert

Nadia Lapusta Elected Fellow of AGU

12-10-20

Nadia Lapusta, Lawrence A. Hanson, Jr., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). This honor is given to individual AGU members who have made exceptional scientific contributions and gained prominence in their respective fields of Earth and space sciences. [AGU release]

Tags: honors MCE Nadia Lapusta

The Moving Earth, Micro to Mega

01-18-19

Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, creates computer models of earthquakes by integrating an astonishing range of data—on scales from thousands of kilometers down to microns and from millennia down to thousandths of a second. “You have to understand the mechanics across the entire earthquake system, starting at the micrometer scale,” says Professor Lapusta. “This is the challenge.” Her numerical models rely upon field observations, seismic monitoring, lab experiments, and theoretical science, while complementing those endeavors with a new perspective. The predictions expand researchers’ view beyond the limits of direct observation—which is important for events that occur across thousands of years. [Breakthrough story] [ENGenious story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta

Professor Lapusta Receives GSC Mentoring Award

09-17-18

The Caltech Graduate Student Council (GSC) has selected Professor Nadia Lapusta as the recipient of the 2017-2018, GSC Mentoring Award. The GSC Teaching and Mentoring Awards recognize individuals “who have an extraordinary impact on Caltech graduate students through their roles as teachers and mentors.” Nominators described Professor Lapusta as being an excellent cheerleader who fosters her students' ties with the community. Despite leading a large group, she makes significant amounts of time for her students. One student said, "the path ahead always seems more optimistic after our meetings."

Tags: honors MCE Nadia Lapusta teaching

How Friction Evolves During an Earthquake

08-15-17

Professor Ares Rosakis, and colleagues including Professor Nadia Lapusta and Research Scientist Vito Rubino, are studying the way friction changes along a fault during a seismic event by simulating quakes in a lab. "Our unique facility … allows us for the first time to study friction point-wise and without having to assume that sliding occurs uniformly, as is done in classical friction studies," Rosakis explains. Professor Lapusta adds, “some numerical models of earthquake rupture … have used friction laws with slip-velocity dependence… It is gratifying to see those formulations validated by the spontaneous mini-earthquake ruptures in our study. " [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis Nadia Lapusta Vito Rubino

Microseismicity and Large Earthquakes

06-10-16

Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and Caltech alumnus Dr. Junle Jiang, have linked the patterns of microseismicity to the depth extension of large earthquakes, both through modeling and observationally. They argue that fault segments which do not have concentrated microseismicity at the bottom of the seismogenic zone must have had deeper, larger earthquakes than currently believed. A number of segments on the San Andreas fault appear to fall into that category. The potential for such deeper earthquakes in the future would imply higher seismic hazard. [Science article] [KPCC coverage] [New Yorker Article]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta alumni Junle Jiang

Winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced

06-09-16

The student winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at a special dinner with the Demetriades - Tsafka – Kokkalis family. Rachel P. Galimidi received the prize in Biotechnology for her work with Professor Pamela Bjorkman aimed to further understand the mechanism of HIV evasion of the humoral immune response. Junle Jiang was the recipient of the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection for his work with Nadia Lapusta which used probabilistic inversion tools to understand the deep-ocean trench generated tsunamis that occurred during the subduction-zone earthquakes in Japan and Chile. Yinglu Tang working with Dr. Jeff Snyder received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources for her work on thermoelectric skutterudites for mid-temperature applications such as automotive waste heat recovery. The second winner in this category was Changhong Zhao who worked with Professor Steven Low to study the control and optimization of modern electric power systems. The winner of the prize in Nanotechnology was Gustavo Rios whose research involves development of a modular, scalable, nanofabricated neural probe system for dense 3-D electrophysiology to study animal brains. Rio’s graduate advisor was Professor Thanos Siapas. The prize in Entrepreneurship was given to Anton A. Toutov who was advised by Professor Robert Grubbs. His research interests lie in using fundamental chemistry to development radically new, sustainable ways to make everyday chemical products and generate clean energy.

Tags: APhMS EE honors MedE MCE CMS Jeff Snyder Nadia Lapusta Steven Low Robert Grubbs CNS Junle Jiang Rachel P. Galimidi Pamela Bjorkman Yinglu Tang Changhong Zhao Gustavo Rios Thanos Siapas Anton Toutov

Winners of the 2015 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced

06-09-15

The student winners of the 2015 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at a special luncheon with the Demetriades - Tsafka – Kokkalis family. Alborz Mahdavi received the prize in Biotechnology for his work with David Tirrell developed a set of important new tools for analyzing protein synthesis in complex biological systems. Srivatsan Hulikal was the recipient of the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection for his work with Nadia Lapusta on linking macroscopic frictional properties of interfaces to their micromechanics. Lingwen Gan working with Steven Low received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources for his work on sustainable power systems and specifically the control and optimization of distributed energy resources in future smart grids. The winner of the prize in Nanotechnology was Niranjan Srinivas  for designing and building a system of DNA machines that, in bulk, implement an oscillator. Niranjan's advisor was Erik Winfree.

Tags: EE honors MCE CMS Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Erik Winfree Nadia Lapusta Steven Low Alborz Mahdavi David Tirrell Srivatsan Hulikal Lingwen Gan Niranjan Srinivas

Faulty Behavior

01-09-13

Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and colleagues have created new earthquake fault models showing that “stable” zones may contribute to the generation of massive earthquakes. "Lapusta and Noda's realistic earthquake fault models are critical to our understanding of earthquakes—knowledge that is essential to reducing the potential catastrophic consequences of seismic hazards," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "This work beautifully illustrates the way that fundamental, interdisciplinary research in the mechanics of seismology at Caltech is having a positive impact on society." [Caltech Release]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta

Greater Insight into Earthquake Cycles

05-10-12

Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and colleagues have developed the first computer model of an earthquake-producing fault segment that reproduces, in a single physical framework, the available observations of both the fault's seismic (fast) and aseismic (slow) behavior. "Earthquake science is on the verge of building models that are based on the actual response of the rock materials as measured in the lab—models that can be tailored to reproduce a broad range of available observations for a given region," says Lapusta. "This implies we are getting closer to understanding the physical laws that govern how earthquakes nucleate, propagate, and arrest." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta