Roan Mountain View

Research Opportunities for Students

Recent and Ongoing Student Research Projects

I am always looking for highly motivated and enthusiastic students to assist with my research. To get and idea of what kinds of problems I am interested in, refer to my research page or look at the recent and ongoing student projects below. I prefer students with a strong mathematical background, some programming experience, and familiarity with Linux/Unix operating systems , but these are not always prerequisites. So, if you like the idea of working with computers to visualize and solve geologic problems using the principles of physics, mathematics, and computer science, or if you have questions about what a student project would consist of feel free stop by my office or email me (marshallst<at>appstate<dot>edu).
Below are examples of some recent student research projects.

Graduate School and Employment Prospects

While there are few job titles that contain the words "geodesy" or "fracture mechanics," this by no means signifies a lack of potential employment opportunities for a student wishing to pursue research in fracture mechanics, geodesy, and in the Earth sciences in general. A solid quantitative background in the theory and applications of fracture mechanics and modern satellite geodesy can prepare you for many potentially well-paying careers in the Earth Science fields including:

  • Graduate School / Academia: Whether it be pursuing graduate studies or a teaching and/or research career in academia, studies in the geophysical aspects of crustal deformation provide a strong foundation for an academic career in the spectrum of fields in geophysics, tectonics, and structural geology. Most geology/geophysics departments have at least one faculty member that studies crustal deformation and/or geodesy and many departments have entire groups that focus on crustal deformation. I strongly encourage all of my research students to apply to graduate programs. While you can get a job with only a Batchelor's degree, having a graduate degree vastly increases your employment potential and salary. The best way to get into a good graduate program (other than having good grades and GRE scores) is to complete a senior thesis using modern quantitative approaches. This shows your future research advisor that you have a modern quantitative skill set and that you can deal with the inherent frustrations of doing original research.

  • Petroleum Industry: Characterization of an oil reservoir requires a comprehensive background in fault and fracture analysis. Quantitative geology and geophysical studies can make you a strong candidate for a career in this field. Despite the often volatile nature of the petroleum industry, job prospects are currently very good.

  • Geotechnical Engineering: The good thing about geotechnical consulting companies is that they are just about everywhere! A background in quantitative deformation studies can make you an appealing candidate for a job in this field. Such companies may be involved in a broad range of projects, including engineering site evaluations, structural geologic characterization, seismic hazard analyses, hydrogeologic investigations, environmental engineering, contaminant disposal or remediation, and mathematical computer modeling. Fault, fracture, and deformation studies have relevance to all of these fields.

  • Environmental Geology Consulting and Hydrogeology: Environmental consulting companies are also found just about everywhere! The activities of mankind have resulted in the release of numerous contaminants into the subsurface. These contaminants are often stored in fractures in the vadose zone, or move into the groundwater system, which is commonly hosted by fractured rocks. A knowledge of fracture development and characteristics in rocks is therefore useful to students interested in careers in contaminant remediation or groundwater resources management.

  • Mining: With the abundance of high tech gadgets that require silicon and rare Earth elements, mining is booming. Many economic mineral deposits hosted in fractured and/or deformed rock. Accurate characterization of complexly faulted and fractured mineral resources requires a comprehensive training in theoretical fracture mechanics. This expertise can be gained through research and instruction in the geology program.

  • Government Agencies: A background in fault mechanics and structural modeling can open doors for careers in government agencies concerned with fracture and fault issues, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, state geological surveys, the Department of Energy, and NASA. Government research laboratories can also provide opportunities for research positions for candidates with graduate degrees.

Postseismic Deformation Associated with the 1994 M6.7 Northridge Earthquake

Julia Irizarry :: 2011-2013

San Andreas Coulomb Stress Changes

Undergraduate geology major, Julia Irizarry, worked with me along with collaborators Gareth Funning and Chad Severson at the University of California Riverside to create mechanical models of the stress changes and the potential for triggered slip on the San Andreas due to the Northridge earthquake. Julia's work also involved writing an analytical dislocation modeling code based on Okada (1984) using the prgramming language, Matlab. Julia presented her results at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December of 2011 and work won the outstanding visualization and computation award at the ASU student research symposium in April 2012. Julia is now at the University of Oregon working on her Master's degree within the geophysics research group. Learn more...

Geophysical Analysis of Fluvial Terraces along the South Fork of the New River, NC

Jesse Dean :: 2011-2012

San Andreas Coulomb Stress Changes

Undergraduate geology major, Jesse Dean, worked with me along with Ellen Cowan to image the subsurface geology of a set of fluvial terraces along the south fork of the New River in northwest North Carolina. Jesse used a combination of Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR), and Direct Current (DC) electrical resistivity to provide a detailed picture of the near surface geology of the terraces. This work was presented at the Southeast Section meeting of the Geological Society of America in 2012. Jesse is now at Boise State University working on his Master's degree with the Cyrosphere Geophysics and Remote Sensing Group. Learn more...

Maps of Eastern United States Earthquakes from 1972-2012

Julia Irizarry :: Spring 2011

East US Earthquake Map

Undergraduate geology major, Julia Irizarry, worked to write a script in the Linux/Unix shell scripting language, Bash that visualizes earthquake epicenters in the Eastern United States. The script produces a poster-sized map with two inlaid maps the Eastern US earthquake epicenters. The map includes all recorded earthquakes > M0 from the Advanced National Seismic System catalog from 1972-2012. The 2011 M5.8 Virginia Earthquake is highlighted with a gold star on the map. The maps make excellent teaching tools, or nice wall art! Learn more...

Near-Surface Geophysical Characterization of an Alluvial Aquifer

Bevin Bailey :: 2010-2011

GPR Image

Bevin Bailey, an undergraduate geology major, used near-surface geophysical data to characterize the subsurface geology of the floodplain along the south fork of the New River in Boone, NC. She collected, processed, and integrated data from Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Direct Current (DC) electrical resistivity to image the subsurface in three-dimensions. Bevin's work also involved assessing the effectiveness of each technique based on a comparison of the geophysical data to borehole data. The results were presented at the 2010 annual meeting of American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, CA. Bevin is now working on her Master's degree at the University of Kansas with the geophysics research group. Learn more...

Mechanics and Seismic Potential of Corrugated Faults

Anna Morris :: 2009-2010

Slip Distribution on a Wavy Fault

Anna Morris, a graduate student in the department of physics, modeled the slip behavior and seismic potential of wavy fault surfaces. Faults are inherently non-planar geologic structures; however, most seismic hazard analyses utilize highly simplified fault geometries. To determine the effects of fault geometry on slip behavior and seismic potential Anna and I created a suite of numerical models of sinusoidally wavy fault surfaces. Anna completed her Master's degree in physics 2010 and is now working for Borg Warner in Asheville, NC. The results of this work were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in March of 2012. Learn more...

Map of Northern California Earthquakes and Focal Mechanisms from 1984-2003

Collin Ferebee :: Spring 2009

Northern California Earthquakes

Collin Ferebee, an undergraduate geology major, worked with me to produce poster-sized maps of relocated seismicity in northern California. The map uses the Waldhauser & Schaff (2008) relocated hypocentral data. The maps were plotted using Generic Mapping Tools scripts in the the Linux/Unix shell scripting language, Bash. The map also shows focal mechanisms for events > M5.0. Collin finished his geology degree in 2010 and is now at NC State University working on a degree in physics. Learn more...

Map of Southern California Earthquakes and Focal Mechanisms from 1981-2005

Collin Ferebee :: Spring 2009

Sothern California Earthquakes

Undergraduate geology Major, Collin Ferebee, worked with me to produce poster-sized maps of relocated seismicity in southern California. The map uses the Lin et al. (2007) relocated hypocentral data. The maps were plotted using Generic Mapping Tools scripts in the the Linux/Unix shell scripting language, Bash. to visualize northern California earthquake epicenters. The map also shows focal mechanisms for events > M5.0. Collin finished his geology degree in 2010 and is now at NC State University working on a degree in physics. Learn more...