Elbanna wins NSF CAREER award

5/17/2018 Celeste Arbogast

Written by Celeste Arbogast

Above: Assistant Professor Ahmed Elbanna, center, with graduate students Xiao Ma, left, and Setare Hajarolasvadi.

By Celeste Arbogast

CEE Assistant Professor Ahmed Elbanna has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award to study the physics behind earthquakes with an eye toward more accurate predictive models.

Earthquakes and landslides begin and propagate because of dynamical instabilities related to fundamental physics – the friction, fracture, heating, dilation and compaction of fluid-filled granular materials and rocks in the subsurface subjected to extreme geophysical conditions, Elbanna says. Still, the multi-scale mechanics of fluid-infiltrated fault zones is not yet fully understood using the current modeling and experimental techniques, he says.

“The objective of this CAREER project is to develop a plan to advance frontiers in earthquake source physics using an interdisciplinary research and educational approach,” Elbanna says.

The study will integrate novel theoretical tools from material science, mechanics and computation to model dynamic rupture propagation with high resolution physics in complex fault zones architectures coupled with long range dynamic stress transfer in the host rock. The educational component will “nurture a class of students and researchers who are intrinsically motivated in working on problems bridging geoscience and engineering,” Elbanna says.

Administered under the Faculty Early Career Development Program, CAREER awards are the NSF’s most prestigious form of support and recognition for junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Elbanna joined the faculty in 2013. His research focuses on problems in theoretical and applied mechanics of solids, in the presence and absence of pore fluids, with special emphasis on fracture, deformation and wave propagation. 

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This story was published May 17, 2018.