James R. Rice


Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Harvard University




rice@esag.harvard. edu


Theoretical Mechanics in Earth and Environmental Science -- earthquake source processes, fault and crack dynamics, lithospheric stressing and seismicity, hydrologic and surficial processes, pore fluid interaction with earth materials, landslides, episodic glacial motions


J. R. Rice addresses problems in the theoretical mechanics of solids and fluids -- that is, problems of stressing, deformation, fracture and flow -- as they arise in seismology, tectonophysics and surficial geologic processes and in civil/environmental engineering hydrology and geomechanics. His earthquake studies focus on the nucleation of rupture, thermo- and hydro-mechanical weakening of fault zones during seismic slip, fracture propagation through branched and offset fault systems, tsunami generation and propagation, and relations among stressing, seismicity and deformation in or near continental and subduction fault systems, including the physics of aseismic deformation transients. In studies of hydrologic processes, poroelastic-plastic effects and other fluid interactions in the deformation and failure of earth materials are addressed, with environmental geomechanics applications to glacial flows, including rapid and episodic ice motions, glacial earthquakes, and massive ice-sheet under-flooding events, to formulating mechanical constraints on subsurface CO2 sequestration, and to submarine and subaerial landslide processes. Work in previous years, which also included a stronger focus on mechanical engineering and materials physics, has addressed the theory of crack propagation in elastic-plastic metals, path-independent integrals in elasticity, the structure of inelastic constitutive relations, microscopic mechanisms of cleavage and ductile or creep rupture, the thermodynamics of interfacial embrittlement, wave effects in tensile crack dynamics, sliding friction and its instabilities, deformation localization into shear zones, and landslides in overconsolidated soil slopes.  Contributions have also been made to techniques of computational mechanics, including finite-element and spectral elastodynamic methods.



Please click for full list of Publications (all recent items and many earlier ones can be downloaded as pdf files; some documents developed for teaching, at end of list, can also be downloaded), or full list of Courses Offered (recent and planned ones listed next), or Curriculum Vitae, or schedule for Solid Earth Physics Seminars.



Recently offered (approximately, last five years):


Applied Mathematics 105b, Ordinary and partial differential equations


Earth and Planetary Sciences 202. Mechanics in earth and environmental science


Earth and Planetary Sciences 203. Earthquakes and faulting


Earth and Planetary Sciences 263, Earthquake source processes


Engineering Sciences 162, Hydrology and environmental geomechanics


Engineering Sciences 262, Advanced hydrology and environmental geomechanics


Engineering Sciences 220, Fluid dynamics


Engineering Sciences 240, Solid mechanics


Engineering Sciences 241, Advanced elasticity


Course descriptions at Courses of Instruction, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


Graduate reading and research courses regularly offered:


Applied Mathematics 331,332: Theoretical Mechanics in the Earth and Engineering Sciences


Applied Physics 347,348: Mechanics in Earth and Environmental Science


Earth and Planetary Sciences 363: Seismology and Tectonophysics: Geomechanics, Earthquake Source Physics


Engineering Sciences 337, 338: Mechanics of Solids and Fluids: Earthquake Seismology and Environmental Geomechanics



Recent research in the Rice group (please go to publications and download recent items, and click on links to members of group below):


„ Rupture dynamics on earthquake faults, as related to field and lab-based material properties, fault zone structure, pore-fluid effects, thermal weakening from frictional heating, geometric disorder of fault networks with branches and offsets, and elastic-plastic response of damaged fault-bordering zones. [coworkers: Harsha Bhat (USC), Nora DeDontney, Renata Dmowska, Eric Dunham (Stanford), Nadia Lapusta (Caltech), Hiro Noda (Caltech), John Platt, John Rudnicki (Norhwestern), Paul Segall (Stanford), Elizabeth Templeton-Barrett (Exxon-Mobile), Victor Tsai (USGS), Robert Viesca-Falguires]


„ Stress accumulation and release in subduction earthquake sequences, physical basis of aseismic deformation transients, seismic activation of splay ruptures, and relation of source processes to tsunami waveforms. [coworkers: Nora DeDontney, Renata Dmowska, Yajing Liu (Woods Hole)]


„ Ice sheet and glacier dynamics, physical origin of surges and glacier earthquakes, dynamics of rapid ice-sheet underflooding events. [coworkers: John Platt, Victor Tsai (USGS)]


„ Landslide initiation and rupture propagation, including subaerial and submarine; mechanical interactions with pore fluids in initiation on shallow slopes [coworkers: Ala Aljorany, Robert Viesca-Falguires]


Research supported by grants from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences and Office of Polar Programs, and from NSF, USGS and DOE, through the Southern California Earthquake Center, and by a cooperative research agreement with Total Exploration and Production.



Current members of group:


Ala N. Aljorany, Visiting Scholar in SEAS (from position as Ass't. Professor and Discipline Advisor in Geotechnical Engineering, Dept. of Civil Engineering, University of Baghdad), 327 Pierce Hall, ala@seas.harvard.edu, alaljorany@msn.com. Geomechanics and soil plasticity of nucleation and early propagation of localized shear failures in sedimentary materials.


Nora L. DeDontney, Graduate Student in Earth and Planetary Sciences (starting September 2006, Sc.B. degrres in geology and mechanical engineering, Caltech), 200C Geological Museum, ndedontn@fas.harvard.edu. Subduction zone accretionary prism mechanics, friction, and pore fluid pressure coupling with strength and dynamic slip; seismic splay fault activation, relation to tsunami generation and waveform; factors controlling rupture along branched or offset fault systems, including elastic-plastic effects in damaged bordering zones.


Renata Dmowska, Research Associate in Geophysics, SEAS, and occasional Lecturer (for course on Earthquake Source Processes) in Earth and Planetary Sciences. 227 Pierce Hall, dmowska@seismology.harvard.edu. Stress accumulation and release in subduction zone earthquakes; seismicity patterns for intermediate term earthquake prediction; rupture through geometrically complex fault systems with bends, branches and offsets.


John D. Platt, Graduate Student in Applied Mathematics, SEAS (starting September 2009, BA and MA degrees in mathematics, Oxford Univ., UK), 327 Pierce Hall, platt@fas.harvard.edu.  Shear flow and instability processes in granulated materials, with application to thermal decomposition weakening in fault zones during seismic shear, and to dynamic shear processes in fluid-infiltrated sub-glacial till as coupled to a moving ice sheet.


Robert C. Viesca,  Graduate Student in Engineering Sciences, SEAS (starting September 2005, Sc.B. in civil and environmental engineering, Tufts Univ.). 327 Pierce Hall, viesca@esag.harvard.edu. General geomechanics, soil plasticity and failure; off-fault damage and plasticity effects, and pore-fluid saturation effects, in dynamic shear rupture propagation in earthquakes and landslides; submarine landslide nucleation on shallow slopes by local pore pressure elevation.


Rachel V. Zucker, Graduate Student in Earth and Planetary Sciences (starting September 2009, Sc.B. degrres in geology and materials science and engineering, MIT), principally affiliated with group of Sarah Stewart in EPS, 200 Geological Museum, rzucker@fas.harvard.edu.  Shear localization and thermal weakening processes in faulting, with application to determining morphology of  planetary impact craters.


Virginia Casas, Administrative Assistant for Group, SEAS, 206-B Pierce Hall, 617-496-1456, vcasas@deas.harvard.edu.



Recent members of group (since approximately 1998), now elsewhere (affiliations and addresses may not be up to date!):


Aurelie Baudet, Departement de Mecanique, Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l'Ingenieur de Lyon, France; abaudet@esag.harvard.edu, abaudet@deas.harvard.edu. Formerly, Visiting Student Intern, spring- summer 2004. Numerical elastodynamic finite-element modeling of impact stressing and rupture propagation in lab specimens (of A. Rosakis, Caltech).


Harsha S. Bhat, From 1 November 2007: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, Univ. Southern Calif., and Visitor in Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology; hbhat@usc.edu, hbhat@caltech.edu. Formerly, Postdoctoral Fellow in SEAS (June to Oct 2007) at Harvard, and Graduate Student in Engineering Sciences, SEAS (started September 2001, Sc.B. in civil engineering, India), Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences, June 2007. Numerical simulation of rupture dynamics by boundary integral equation and finite element methodology; earthquake rupture through branched and offset fault systems; off-fault stressing and ground motion for supershear ruptures.


Alain Cochard, Teacher, Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre (EOST), Strasbourg, France, since 2006, and previously Senior Research Associate, Institut fur Geophysik, Ludwig-Maximilians- Universitat, Theresienstrasse 41, 80333 Munchen, Germany; al2@noos.fr, cochard@esag.harvard.edu. Formerly, Research Associate in Geophysics, SEAS, departed 1999. Dynamics of earthquake rupture, factors controlling earthquake populations on faults; slip rupture along dissimilar material interfaces.


Eric M. Dunham, as of July '09: Assistant Professor, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University, edunham@stanford.edu.  Formerly, Research Associate in Geophysics in EPS (since July '07), Postdoctoral Lecturer in Applied Mathematics (spring term '08) in SEAS, and Richard A. Daly Postdoctoral Fellow in EPS (starting July 2005; Ph.D. in Physics, Univ. Calif. Santa Barbara).  Dynamics of earthquake rupture propagation; transition from sub-Rayleigh to intersonic rupture; thermal and hydro-mechanical weakening during seismic slip; effects of across-fault dissimilarity in elastic and poromechanical properties; numerical elastodynamic methodology.


Michael Falk, Associate Professor, Depts. of Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins Univ., mfalk@jhu.edu; previously Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering, and Applied Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Formerly, Postdoctoral Fellow in Solid Mechanics and Materials Physics, SEAS (also affiliated with group of Professor Daniel Fisher in SEAS and Physics). Dynamic fracture theory and related computational mechanics; fracture in amorphous materials; crack front waves and side-branching instabilities of fracture paths.


Karen Felzer, Mendehhall Postdoctoral Fellow, U. S. Geological Survey, Pasadena, CA office (previously postdoc, Earth and Space Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles); kfelzer@moho.ess.ucla.edu, felzer@esag.harvard.edu. Formerly, Graduate Student in Earth and Planetary Sciences (also affiliated with group of Professor Goran Ekstrom in EPS); Ph.D. completed May 2003. Seismicity and earthquake stressing; unified statistical modeling of aftershocks, foreshocks and triggered seismicity.


Sonia Fliss, since 2009, faculty member in Applied Mathematics, Ecole Nationale SupŽrieure de Techniques AvancŽes (ENSTA) ParisTech, sonia.fliss@gmail.com; Member of Corps des Mines, Paris.  Formerly Visiting Student Intern from Ecole Polytechnique, Paliseau, spring-summer 2003. Numerical elastodynamic modeling of earthquake rupture through branched and offset fault systems; mechanism of backward branching.


Yunlong He, Professor of Hydraulic Structures, Department of Hydroelectric Engineering, Wuhan University, P.R. China, ylhe@s1000e.wuhee.edu.cn, ylhe2002@yahoo.com.cn, ylhe@esag.harvard.edu. Formerly, Visiting Scientist, SEAS, 2004. Hydraulic structures, dam engineering, structural dynamics; reservoir induced seismicity.


Laurent Jacques, Member of Corps des Mines, Paris, and Laboratoire de Mecanique, Ecole Polytechnique, Paliseau; laurent.jacques@polytechnique.org. Formerly, Visiting Student Intern, spring-summer 2002. Shear heating, pore fluid pressurization, and partial melting of earthquake fault gouge during rapid shear.


Nobuki Kame, as of April 2009: Associate Professor, Division of Earth Mechanics, Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, JAPAN, kame@eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp.  Previously, Research Associate, Seismology Group, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.  Visiting Scientist in Geophysics, SEAS & EPS, on Japan Society for Promotion of Science Fellowship. Slip-rupture propagation with dynamically self-chosen faulting path; elastodynamic boundary integral equation methodology; fault interaction with potential bend paths.


Yann Klinger, CNRS Permanent Researcher, Laboratoire Tectonique, Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris; klinger@ipgp.jussieu.fr. Formerly, Visiting Scholar in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard, as sabbatical visitor from September 2007 to August 2008. Active faulting and earthquake geology; earthquake distribution in time and space; how earthquakes trigger one another; development and application of tools of neotectonics, paleoseismology, remote-sensing and post-earthquake surveying.


Jeff Kysar, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Enigineering, Columbia University, New York; jk2079@columbia.edu. Formerly, Graduate Student in Engineering Sciences, SEAS; Ph.D. completed September 1998. Fracture along metal-ceramic interfaces; optical interferometric techniques for measuring crack opening and plastic blunting.


Nadia Lapusta, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, California Institute of Technology, lapusta@caltech.edu. Formerly, Postdoctoral Fellow in Solid Mechanics, SEAS, and Graduate Student in Engineer ing Sciences, SEAS; Ph.D. completed May 2001. Dynamics of frictional instabilities; earthquake rupture nucleation and propagation; dynamic models of earthquake sequences; new methodology for computational elastodynamics.


Hoe I. Ling, Visiting Associate Professor of Geomechanics, SEAS (January to June 2006, on sabbatical leave for spring term 2006 from Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University, New York, NY). hling@deas.harvard.edu, hil9@columbia.edu. General geomechanics and geotechnical engineering; critical state constitutive modeling of soil plasticity; centrifuge study of soil deformation; physical and numerical modeling of soil liquefaction; seismic response of slopes and embankments; geosynthetic soil reinforcement.


Yajing Liu, From August 2009: Assistant Scientist, Marine Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Instutute, yliu@whoi.edu.  From August 2007 to July 2009: Harry Hess Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geosciences, Princeton Univ.  Formerly, Postdoctoral Fellow in Earth and Planetary Sciences (June to August 2007) at Harvard, and Graduate Student in Earth and Planetary Sciences (started September 2001, Sc.B. in geophysics, Beijing Univ.), Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences, June 2007. Subduction zone earthquake processes; numerical modeling of earthquake sequences considering rate and state friction and pore fluid pressure coupling with strength and slip; physical basis for aseismic deformation transients in subduction zones.


John Morrissey, Computational Mathematician at Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG), Downers Grove, IL; johnm@nag.com. Formerly, Graduate Student in Engineering Sciences, SEAS; Ph.D. completed August 1998. Statistical elastodynamics of fracture propagation through heterogeneous solids; crack front waves; supercomputer techniques in crack dynamics.


Hiroyuki Noda, From November 2008: Postdoctoral Scholar in Geophysics, Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology; hnoda@gps.caltech.edu. Formerly, Visiting Scholar and Special Graduate Student in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard (intermittently starting September 2005; visiting from the Department of Geophysics, and previously from the Department of Geology and Mineralogy of the Division of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan). Laboratory and field characterizations of fault zone materials; physical basis of seismic fault weakening by flash heating; numerical rupture dynamics considering thermal and hydro-mechanical weakening in fault zones.


Marion Olives, Option Sol et Sous-Sol, Ecole des Mines de Paris, and Laboratoire de Mecanique, Ecole Polytechnique, Paliseau; molives@esag.harvard.edu, marion_olives@yahoo.fr. Formerly Visiting Student Intern, spring- summer 2004. Numerical elastodynamic modeling of earthquake rupture through branched fault systems; effects of finite branch length.


Rob Parsons, Mechanical Engineer, Axiam, Inc., Gloucester, MA; rparsons@post.harvard.edu. Formerly, Undergraduate Research Assistant, SEAS, summer 2001; BA in Applied Mathematics completed June 2003. Stressing by rapidly propagating earthquake ruptures of damaged zones adjoining faults; potential fault branching paths.


Alexei Poliakov, last known affiliation Royal Bank of Canada, Global Equity Derivatives, Thames Court, One Queenhithe, London EC4V 4DE, UK (previously Laboratoire de Geophysique et Tectonique, CNRS, Universite Montpellier II, France); alexei.poliakov@rbccm.com. Formerly, Visiting Scientist in Geophysics, SEAS, departed 2001. Stressing by rapidly propagating earthquake ruptures of damaged zones adjoining faults; potential fault branching paths.


Kunnath Ranjith, independent researcher, formerly Visiting Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Metal Science, Stuttgart, and Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, Amrita University, Coimbatore, India. ranjith.kunnath@gmail.com, ranjith@post.harvard.edu. Formerly, Graduate Student in Engineering Sciences, SEAS; Ph.D. completed May 2001. Dynamic slip instabilities along dissimilar material interfaces; rate and state frictional instabilities.


Stephanie Raoul, Student, Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre (EOST), Strasbourg, France; phanira@hotmail.com. Formerly, Formerly, Visiting Student Intern at Harvard, June to September 2007. Numerical modeling of seismic rupture branching onto splay faults in great subduction earthquakes.


Alan Rempel, Assistant Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403; rempel@uoregon.edu. Formerly, Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, SEAS, up to January 2005. Mechanics and physics of ice, implications for paleoclimate, freezing of soils; pore fluid interactions with deformation and failure of granular materials in seismic and surficial processes, frictional heating and onset of melting in fault gouge.


Mark A. J. Taylor, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, London; taylor@post.harvard.edu. Formerly, Research Associate at the Department of Earth Science, Cambridge University, UK, and Graduate Student in Applied Physics, SEAS; Ph.D. completed August 1998. Stress accumulation and release in subduction zone earthquake cycles; upper plate/back-arc, slab and outer rise seismicity in relation to coupling along the thrust interface.


Elizabeth L. Templeton-Barrett, as of June 2009: ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, Houston, TX; elizabeth.templeton@gmail.com.  Formerly, Graduate Student in Engineering Sciences, SEAS (starting September 2003, Sc.B. in mechanical engineering and mathematics, Tulane Univ.), 327 Pierce Hall, templeton@esag.harvard.edu, templet@fas.harvard.edu. Ph.D. completed May 2009. Dynamic finite-element modeling of shear rupture propagation in branched fault systems; development of off-fault damage zones; elastic-Coulomb plastic models for off-fault response.


Victor C. Tsai, as of October 2009: Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow, USGS, Geological Hazards Team, Golden, Colorado, vtsai@post.harvard.edu; also starting 2010 or 2011, Assistant Professor, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Caltech.  Formerly, Postdoctoral Fellow in EPS (June to September 2009) at Harvard, and Graduate Student in EPS (started September 2004, Sc.B. in geophysics, Caltech); Ph.D. completed May 2009.  General aspects of solid earth geophysics, earthquake seismology and glaciology; thermal weakening and strain localization processes in seismic shear; seismic noise correlation; dynamics of ice-sheets, glacial earthquakes, glacial underflooding by turbulent hydraulic fracture.


Koji Uenishi, Assistant/Associate Professor, Research Center for Urban Safety and Security, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokko-dai, Nada, Kobe 657-8501, Japan; uenishi@kobe-u.ac.jp.  Formerly, Visiting Scientist in Geophysics, SEAS & EPS, on Japan Society for Promotion of Science Fellowship. Nucleation of rupture on slip-weakening faults; dynamics of slip rupture along bimaterial interfaces; elastodynamic finite- difference methodology.


Jian-Sheng Wang. Senior Materials Design Engineer, QuesTek Innovations, LLC, 1820 Ridge Ave. Evanston, IL 60208; jwang@questek.com. Formerly, Research Associate in Materials Science, SEAS, departed 1998. Experimental studies of cracking and hydrogen or solute-based embrittlement in normally ductile metals; fracture along metal-ceramic interfaces.



Most Recent Revision: 3 April 2010.