red sandstone in Antelope Canyon

Geomechanics & Geophysics for Energy and the Environment

Duke's Geomechanics and Geophysics for Energy and the Environment (GGEE) research group works to understand and address issues related to underground engineering, exploration, resource use and environmental hazards. Our faculty develop mathematical models to study and predict interactions among the chemical, thermal and mechanical processes in soils and rocks, as well as noninvasive techniques for interrogating and characterizing sub-surface properties.

Casey Rubin demonstrating apparatus

Applications of our work include exploration and engineering of deep, high pressure/high temperature energy resources such as oil, gas, methane hydrates and hot water or vapor. Unconventional approaches to resource extraction demand integration across science fields, and geomechanics bridges the gap from geology and geophysics to engineering in a way that is only now becoming more widely appreciated in the energy industry. Our research also addresses geo-hazards such as earthquakes, sinkholes, desiccation soil cracking, material degradation, geostructure degradation, landslides and mudslides; geomechanics principles are utilized to assess wellbore stability, reservoir properties, nuclear waste geological disposal, landslide stability and hydraulic stimulations including hydraulic fracking.

Research Areas

  • Chemo-mechanical couplings in geomaterials
  • Thermo-plasticity of soils and rocks
  • Long-term multi-physics aspects of resilience of geo-structures
  • Multi-physics of geological nuclear waste isolation
  • Evaporation, drying and cracking of geomaterials
  • Multi-physics aspects for friction laws
  • Stability and bifurcation of multiphysical systems
  • Computational geomechanics
  • Non-invasive geophysical characterization of earth subsurface for engineering, energy and environmental applications
  • Subsurface contamination and related health issues
  • Stability of earth subsurface based on percolation theory
  • Multiscale analysis of porous materials
  • Stochastic modeling of heterogeneous materials
  • Uncertainty quantification for complex systems

Related Study Opportunities

PhD and MS

Master of Engineering (MEng)

Undergraduate Research

Primary Faculty

Fred K. Boadu

Fred K. Boadu

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: My research seek to develop an understanding of how the engineering, environmental and petrophysical properties of porous media (soils, fractured rock, biological tissues) affect measurable geophysical responses, and subsequently develop methodologies by which these properties...

Henri P. Gavin

Henri P. Gavin

Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, seismic hazard mitigation for building contents, nonlinear dynamics, system identification, optimal control with application to systems with controllable damping.

Johann Guilleminot

Johann Guilleminot

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Computational mechanics, mechanics of heterogeneous materials, molecular dynamics simulations and atomistic-to-continuum coupling, stochastic solvers, statistical inverse problem and model validation, stochastic analysis, uncertainty quantification in science and engineering.

Tomasz Hueckel

Tomasz Hueckel

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: mechanics of materials, theoretical soil mechanics, rock mechanics, theory of plasticity, multi-physics processes in geomechanics, nuclear waste disposal, energy and environmental geomechanics

Guglielmo Scovazzi

Guglielmo Scovazzi

Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Finite element methods, computational fluid and solid mechanics, multiphase porous media flows, computational methods for fluid and solid materials under extreme load conditions, turbulent flow computations, instability phenomena.

Manolis Veveakis

Manolis Veveakis

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Geomechanics, theoretical and applied mechanics, and thermodynamics, with emphasis in multiphysical modelling of plasticity of solids, solid-fluid interactions, friction laws and rheology of geomaterials

Adjunct Faculty

Lyesse Laloui

Lyesse Laloui

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Natural and man-made systems with coupled phenomena. Environmental Geomechanics, Geotechnical and Geo-environmental Engineering, Mechanics of Multiphase Porous Materials. Area of activities at Duke University: Thermo-mechanical behavior of soils, soil desiccation and shrinkage.

Amilcare Porporato

Amilcare Porporato

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Near-wall turbulence, nonlinear analysis of hydrologic time series, stochastic soil moisture dynamics and water balance, soil-atmosphere interaction, and ecohydrology, complexity in the environment, sustainable use of soil and water resources.