Ph.D.: “Mechanics of swelling clay faults from molecular simulation to earthquakes”
Plate boundary fault zones exhibit a wide range of dynamic behaviors, from aseismic slip to mega-earthquakes. So far, there is no consensus on a model describing the processes controlling these fault behaviors. A possible answer might lie in the properties of smectite, a swelling clay mineral that form the core of many of the fault zones and that is able to adsorb significant amounts of water in-between nanometric minerals. Despite their potential importance, the thermodynamics of hydration/dehydration reactions in smectite and the connections between these reactions and the fault deformations, is not yet known. These fundamental questions are the heart of the ANR project SMEC funding this Ph.D. position. This Ph.D. project focuses on the modeling of part of the SMEC project. More precisely, we propose to combine molecular simulations, granular modeling and micromechanics in order to relate the hydration/dehydration reactions of smectites to the mechanical behavior of faults zones.
A Master or Engineer internship before starting this Ph.D. is possible: see the internship offer.