Newsletter 12 – November 2018

PhD defences:

In November, Manuel Thieme from Montpellier (Figure 1) and Gianluca Gerardi from FAST laboratory (Figure 2) have defended their PhD thesis successfully. We congratulate both of them!

Figure 1. Celebrating Manuel’s PhD defence with colleagues.

Figure 2. Gianluca presenting the scientific outcome of his PhD in Orsay and celebrating afterwards


Elenora van Rijsingen and Nicolò Sgreva participated in GeoMod 2018 conference held in Barcelona 1st – 4th October 2018 (Figure 3). GeoMod is a biennial conference focused on geological processes from different aspects, including analytical and numerical modelling and laboratory experiments. This year the conference focused on the upper part of the Earth with topics such as dynamics of the lithosphere, fault mechanics and surface processes.

Nicolò presented a poster showing an experimental study conducted on aqueous superabsorbent polymers, to systematically investigate the influence of the heterogeneities size on the effective rheology and its domain of validity, particularly in the lithosphere.

Elenora presented a poster with the title ‘How subduction interface roughness influences megathrust earthquakes: insights form analogue models’. With this poster she showed the last part of her PhD, the analogue modelling approach. She tested the effect of subduction interface roughness in a systematic way, by 3D-printing two endmember types of seafloor roughness. Her main results show that a rough seafloor reduces the occurrence of large megathrust earthquakes.’

Figure 3. Group-photo of participants of the GeoMod 2018 in Barcelona.

Last July (8th – 13th), Angelo Pisconti flew to Edmonton in Canada (Figure 4) to participate at the 16th Symposium of SEDI (Study of the Earth’s Deep Interior) with a poster focused on his research on lowermost mantle anisotropy. SEDI is a Committee of IUGG, aiming to understand the past evolution and current thermal, dynamical and chemical state of the Earth’s deep interior ( Angelo presented his work also at the last AG Seismology conference held in Pirna (Germany), from the 25th to the 27th of September.

Figure 4. SEDI 2018 group photo taken at the Centennial Center for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS) at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Caspar gave a talk at the 9th Conference on the Mechanical Behavior of Salt (SaltMech IX) that took place in September (12th – 14th) at the BGR (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources) in Hannover, Germany (Figure 5). His presentation ‘Effects of Plastic Deformation on the Transport Properties of Rocksalt’ covered fundamental aspects about the ability of fluid percolation in rocksalt during ductile flow debunking recent statements that salt could lose its impermeable nature without dilation or the occurrence of microcracks.

Figure 5. Caspar during his talk at the SaltMech IX in Hannover, Germany

Thomas Loriaux will take part in the BGA (The British Geophysical Association) conference, “New Advances in Geophysics: The Future of Passive Seismic Acquisition”, held in Edinburgh, 12th -13th November 2018.


Anne Davaille from FAST laboratory in Orsay, France received the Love Medal of the European Geological Union for her contribution to Earth, planetary and space sciences. The prize will be handed out in an award ceremony at the next EGU meeting in Vienna (7th -12th April 2019).

Last September (23rd – 26th), Linfeng Ding from Mainz, flew to Yokohama in Japan to participate in the ICG (International Commission on Glass) Annual Meeting 2018 and he has won a student presentation award for his work on “Pressure Dependence of Density and Structural Relaxation of Glass Near the Glass Transition Region”.

Elenora van Rijsingen from RomaTre, Italy won the Special Award of the “On the Rocks” video contest for her video about the effect of the seafloor roughness on the occurrence of large earthquakes in subduction zones ( “On the Rocks” is an initiative by the “Società Geologica Italiana”. The award ceremony was held in Catania (Sicily) on 12th of September.


For October, Thomas Loriaux moved to UCL (London) to discuss his results from a seismic experiment conducted in the field with the SeismoLab team, in particular with Nicolas Brantut and Emmanuel David ( Their expertise in the laboratory should help to better understand Thomas’ results and compare them with small scale data.

Thomas is now in Iceland (Figure 6), working with Reykjavik Geothermal Ltd ( RG is a geothermal development company focused on the development of high enthalpy geothermal resources for utility scale power production. RG specifically identifies and targets locations where geothermal resources can be efficiently exploited to meet the local energy demand. The main purpose of his visit is to present seismic anisotropy results from a volcano in Eritrea. Such measurements have to potential to better characterise fractured reservoirs, since this volcano is thought to be one of the most promising geothermal sites in the country.

Figure 6. Mount Esjan form the Reykjavik Geothemal Ltd. office.

At the beginning of next year, Caspar will also do his secondment at the UCL (London) to complement his work at the Kiel University (done in April 2018) on measuring P- and S-wave velocities in rocksalt (halite). To investigate the behaviour of rocksalt under extreme stress conditions, for instance in the excavation damage zone (EDZ) of salt cavern walls, his follow-up experiments at the Rock Physics Laboratory (UCL) intend to combine triaxial deformation data with acoustic emissions (AE) and elastic wave velocity measurements. His intentions are to investigate if it is possible to use AE and wave velocity measurements to (a) identify differences in mechanical vs. chemical healing in salt, (b) witness the occurrence of microcracks, and (c) to examine how this relates to the microstructural evolution.


Caspar moved to Enschede (NL) for October & November to do his internship at the industry partner Nouryon (former AkzoNobel Special Chemistry) of his project. Nouryon produces approx. 3 million tons of salt per year by solution mining from more than 350 individual salt caverns in the Netherlands and Denmark. Key points to investigate relate to the long-term integrity of brine-filled salt caverns to ensure a safe sealing for permanent abandonment without any leakage of fluids. In this context, Caspar works on identifying weak spots within the dynamic salt-brine system by quantifying the competition between stress-related microcracking and chemical healing of such openings.


Recently, more and more scientific output of the CREEP PhD’s research has been published and submitted to journals:

Linfeng Ding has published different aspect of his work on glass (Ding et al., 2018, Int. Jou. Appl. Glass. Sc.; Ma et al., Mat. Let.). Elenora (Lallemand et al., 2018, Geoch. Geophy. Geosys.) and Gianluca (Gerardi et al., Earth. Pl. Sc. Let.) have published their work on subduction. Lucan has also published his work on numerical models of mechanical anisotropy in the upper mantle (Mameri et al., Phys. Earth. Pl. Int.) and Angelo has submitted his work on observations and modelling of lowermost mantle anisotropy (Pisconti et al., Jour. Geophy. Res., submitted) also in collaboration with the seismology group of the Department of Geology and Geophysics of Yale University (Creasy et al., Geophys. Journ. Int, in review).

Angelo, Caspar, Jana, Simon


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