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G3 Center for Geomechanics, Geofluids, and Geohazards

Led by Derek Elsworth, Shimin Liu, and Chris Marone.

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Where Fluids Meet Rocks

Earthquake nucleation and recurrence, the triggering and timing of volcanic eruptions, the recovery of hydrocarbons from tight reservoirs, and the generation of submarine landslides are all influenced by the interaction of rocks and fluids.

Understanding these relationships is a key component of our ability to:

  • Understand and warn of natural disasters
  • Recover energy fluids from the subsurface
  • Provide safe storage and long term stewardship of related industrial products and wastes
Helicopter landing pad on an ODP oceanic research vessel.
G3 faculty and students underground to study fluid flow.
  • Where Graduates are in Demand

    By integrating activities in rock and fluid physics through laboratory experimentation, field observation, and theoretical analysis, a Penn State degree earned through G3 prepares you for a rewarding career in academics, government or industry.

    Ph.D Degrees:

    • Energy and Mineral Engineering
    • Geosciences

    Our graduates are in high-demand both for competitive faculty positions and lucrative, interdisciplinary industry jobs.

    Meet G3 Alumni

    • Guijie Sang Guijie Sang Headshot
    • Long Fan Long Fan Headshot
    • Chaoyi Wang Chaoyi Wang Headshot
    • Kyungjae Im KyungJae Im Headshot
    • Brandon Schwartz Brandon Schwartz Headshot
    • Yi Fang Yi Fang Headshot
    • Yi Wang Yi Wang Headshot
    • Andy Rathbun Andy Rathbun Headshot
    • Quan Gan Quan Gan Headshot
    • Marco Scuderi Marco Scuderi Headshot
    • Josh Taron Josh Taron Headshot
    • Shugang Wang Brett Carpenter Headshot
    • Rachel Lauer Rachel Lauer Headshot
    • Brett Carpenter Brett Carpenter Headshot
    • Matt Ikari Matt Ikari Headshot
    • Audrey Sawyer Audrey Sawyer Headshot
    • André Niemeijer Andre Niemeijer Headshot
    • Patrick Fulton Patrick Fulton Headshot
    • Hui Long Hui Long Headshot
    • Heather Savage Heather Savage Headshot
    • Hideaki Yashuara Hideaki Yashuara Headshot
    Guijie Sang stands in front of a technical poster explaining the content for his poster, Laboratory study of water sorption and retention behaviors of shales.

    Guijie Sang

    Ph.D., Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2020

    Guijie is a Research Associate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Learn more about Guijie Sang.

    Schematic diagram of experimental setup with improved volumetric method.

    Long Fan

    Ph.D., Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2019

    Long is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mining and Mineral Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Learn more about Long Fan.

    Contact model configuration showing rolling resistance contact model versus a parallel bond contact model.

    Chaoyi Wang

    Ph.D., Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2019

    Chaoyi is a former postdoc at Purdue and now a Research Associate at the University of Calgary, Canada. Learn more about Chayoi Wang.

    Kyungjae Im standing in the desert.

    Kyungjae Im

    Ph.D., Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2019

    KJ is a Research Associate at Caltech Learn more about Kyungjae Im.

    Front of Hosler Building.

    Brandon Schwartz

    Ph.D., Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2018

    Brandon is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State. He was awarded the American Rock Mechanics Association N.G.W. Cook Award (2020). Learn more about Brandon Schwartz.

    Headshot of Yi Fang in the lab wearing safety glasses.

    Yi Fang

    Ph.D., Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2017

    Yi is a data scientist and formerly an assistant professor at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and postdoc in Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. He was runner-up: International Society for Rock Mechanics Rocha Medal (2020). Learn more about Yi Fang.

    Yi Wang Headshot.

    Yi Wang

    Ph.D., Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2017

    Yi as an assistant professor with the School of Energy and Mining Engineering, China University of Mining & Technology, Beijing, China.

    Chevron Logo.

    Andy Rathbun

    Ph.D., Geosciences / Penn State, 2016

    Andy is a senior research scientist with Chevron.

    Quan Gan Headshot.

    Quan Gan

    Ph.D., Geomechanics / Penn State, 2015
    MS, Petroleum Engineering / Penn State, 2012

    Quan is a professor at Chongqing University, China. . Learn more about Quan Gan.

    Old building columns in Marco Scuderi's home country of Italy.

    Marco Scuderi

    Ph.D., Rock Mechanics & Geophysics / Penn State, 2014

    Marco is an associate professor at Sapienza, University of Rome, where he was previously a postdoctoral Marie-Curie Fellow. Learn more about Marco Scuderi.

    Aerial photograph of a smoke plume emanating from the Soufriere Hills Volcano.

    Josh Taron

    Ph.D., Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering / Penn State, 2014

    Josh is a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Previously he was a research scientist with the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.

    • Awarded: American Rock Mechanics Association Dr. N.G.W. Cook Dissertation Award Ratings (2010)
    • Runner-up: International Society for Rock Mechanics Rocha Medal (2012)
    Headshot of Shugang Wang.

    Shugang Wang

    Ph.D., Energy and Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2014

    Shugang is a geomechanics research scientist with Chevron.

    Under sea research as viewed from iside an Alvin submersible.

    Rachel Lauer

    Ph.D., Marine Hydrogeology / Penn State, 2013

    Rachel is an associate professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary. She was previously a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz. Learn more about Rachel Lauer.

    Brett Carpenter stands in the Rock Mechanics lab.

    Brett Carpenter

    Ph.D., Geosciences / Penn State, 2012

    Brett is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma where he was previously a postdoctoral researcher. Learn more about Brett Carpenter.

    Headshot of Matt Ikari.

    Matt Ikari

    Ph.D., Geosciences / Penn State, 2010

    Matt is a research associate at Universität Bremen, Germany. Learn more about Matt Ikari.

    Audrey Sawyer holds up a fish in front of the stream she caught it from.

    Audrey Sawyer

    Ph.D., Geological Sciences / University of Texas, Austin, 2011
    M.S., Geosciences / Penn State, 2007

    Audrey is an associate professor in the School of Earth Sciences at The Ohio State University. Previously she was an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Delaware. Learn more about Audrey Sawyer.

    Andre Niemeijer explaining earthquake mechanics on television.

    André Niemeijer

    Post-doctoral Researcher 2006-2009

    Andre is an associate professor at the Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands.

    • Awarded: European Geosciences Union (EGU) Structural Geology & Tectonics Division Young Scientist Award (2012)
    Patrick Fulton recording notes on an IODP cruise.

    Patrick Fulton

    Ph.D., Geosciences / Penn State, 2008

    Patrick is an assistant professor and Sesquicentennial Fellow, Cornell University. He was previously assistant professor of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University. Learn more about Patrick Fulton.

    • Awarded: Jason Morgan Early Career Award, American Geophysical Union Tectonophysics Section (2014)
    Closeup of the inside circuit boards and sampling point of an IODP probe desinged by Hui Long.

    Hui Long

    Ph.D., Soil Mechanics & Hydrogeology / Penn State, 2007

    Hui is a petroleum system analyst with ConocoPhillips. He previously worked for ExxonMobil in a variety of analysis and research roles.

    Instrumentation for measuring surface roughness of solid extrusions at Mt. St. Helens

    Heather Savage

    Ph.D., Geosciences / Penn State, 2007

    Heather is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously she completed postdoctoral research positions at the University of California, Santa Cruz and was associate professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. Learn more about Heather Savage.

    • Awarded: American Geophysical Union Mineral and Rock Physics Early Career Award (2016)
    Headshot of Hide Yasuhara

    Hideaki (Hide) Yasuhara

    Ph.D., Engineering / Penn State, 2005

    Hide is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Ehime University, Japan.

    • Awarded: American Rock Mechanics Association N.G.W Cook Award (2006)
    • Awarded: International Society for Rock Mechanics Rocha Medal (2007)
    • Awarded: International Society for Rock Mechanics Franklin Lecture (2017)
    G3 students gather in front of a steamy pond on a field excursion to witness a geyser.

    Where Research has Real Application

    Our Ph.D. research opportunities encompass a broad-range of projects that all integrate the study of the interaction of rocks and fluids.

    Whether through laboratory experiments, field observations, theoretical analysis, mathematical modeling, or all of the above, G3 Ph.D. research have real-world applications towards geo-hazards and geo-environmental issues.

    Explore our faculty research projects and contact us to start a dialogue!

    Storage facility full of rock core samples stored in wooden boxes.

    Where G3 Does Lab Research

    When You are Ready to Join Us

    We’re looking forward to talking with all potential G3 Ph.D. candidates. We feel that the program offered through G3 at Penn State stands alone in offering you an interdepartmental experience in rock and fluid physics.

    Email one of the faculty. Ask some questions, start a dialogue, then come for a visit.

    • Derek Elsworth Derek Elsworth Headshot
    • Shimin Liu Shimin Liu Headshot
    • Chris Marone Chris Marone Headshot
    • Affiliates
    Derek Elsworth and a group of students on a field trip, pose in a grassy field.

    Derek Elsworth

    Ph.D., Engineering / University of California, Berkeley

    Research Interests

    • Rock mechanics
    • Groundwater hydrology
    • Mathematical modeling
    • Poromechanics
    • Coupled processes
    • Contaminant hydrology
    • Mining engineering
    • Petroleum engineering
    • Fracture hydrology

    Contact Derek Elswroth

    Shimin Liu and colleagues working in the lab.

    Shimin Liu

    Ph.D., Engineering Science / Southern Illinois University

    Research Interests

    • Reservoir assessment of unconventional gas resources
    • Reservoir stress evolution with depletion
    • Gas drainage from coal mine
    • Geological carbon sequestration
    • Porous rock imaging

    Contact Shimin Liu

    Chris Marone sitting in front of the EMS student center for the filming of a promotional video.

    Chris Marone

    Ph.D., Geophysics / Columbia University

    Research Interests

    • Experimental Geophysics
    • Earthquake Physics
    • Rock Mechanics
    • Fault Mechanics
    • Constitutive Laws
    • Granular Mechanics

    Contact Chris Marone

    Other Affiliates

    Headshot of Andrew Belmonte

    Andrew Belmonte

    Mathematics & Materials Science and Engineering

    • Fluid Dynamics
    • Complex Fluids
    • Fragmentation and Solid Deformation
    • Electrofluidics
    Headshot of Arash Dahi Taleghani

    Arash Dahi Taleghani

    Petroleum Engineering

    • Wellbore integrity
    • Hydraulic fracturing
    • Unconsolidated rocks
    Headshot of Patrick Fox

    Patrick Fox

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    • Slope Stability
    • Retaining Walls
    • Groundwater
    • Consolidation
    • Geosynthetics
    • Landfills
    • Foundation Engineering
    • Soil Dynamics
    • Earthquake Engineering
    Headshot of Zuleima Karpyn

    Zuleima Karpyn

    Energy and Mineral Engineering

    • Reservoir Characterization
    • Multiphase Transport in Porous Media
    Headshot of Li Li

    Li Li

    Civil Engineering

    • Multiphase Flow and Transport
    • Environmental Engineering, Geochemistry
    Headshot of Jonathan Mattews

    Jonathan Mathews

    Energy and Mineral Engineering

    • Coal Structure & Coal Behavior
    • CO2 Sequestration
    • Molecular Modeling
    Headshot of Yashar Mehmani

    Yashar Mehmani

    Energy and Mineral Engineering

    • Porous Media
    • Multiscale Imaging
    • Computational Physics
    • Subsurface Engineering
    Headshot of Amin Mehrabian

    Amin Mehrabian

    Energy and Mineral Engineering

    • Poromechanics
    Headshot of Anne Menefee

    Anne Menefee

    Energy and Mineral Engineering

    • Geochemistry
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Carbon Management
    Headshot of Tushar Mittal

    Tushar Mittal


    • Rock & Fracture Mechanics
    • Coupled Thermo-hydro-mechanical Processes
    • Volcanic and Geothermal Processes
    • Analog Physical Experiments
    Headshot of Tong Qiu

    Tong Qiu

    Civil Engineering

    • Soil Dynamics
    • Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering
    • Flow-through Porous Media
    Headshot of Jacques Rivière

    Jacques Rivière

    Engineering Science and Mechanics

    • Ultrasonics
    • Rock Physics
    • Nonlinear Elasticity
    • Earthquake Physics
    Headshot of Brandon Schwartz

    Brandon Schwartz

    Energy and Mineral Engineering

    • Experimental Geomechanics
    • Digital Rock Physics
    • Shale Rheology
    • Geologic Carbon Sequestration
    Headshot of Parisa Shokouhi

    Parisa Shokouhi

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    • Infrastructure Sustainability
    • Non-destructive Testing of Construction Materials
    Headshot of Steven Swavely

    Steven Swavely

    Earth and Mineral Sciences Technician

    • Laboratory Technical Support
    Headshot of Ming Xiao

    Ming Xiao

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    • Seepage and Erosion
    • Particle and Flow in Porous Media
    • Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering
    • Geoenvironmental Engineering
    Headshot of Tieyuan Zhu

    Tieyuan Zhu


    • Seismic Attenuation
    • Seismic Tomography