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G3 Center for Geomechanics, Geofluids, and Geohazards

Led by Derek Elsworth, Shimin Liu, Chris Marone, and Demian Saffer

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 Some G3 Alumni

Quan Gan Headshot.

Quan Gan

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

Quan is a lecturer with the Department of Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen.

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

Marco Scuderi

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

Marco is a Postdoctoral Marie-Curie Fellow at University of Rome "La Sapienza"

Under sea research as viewed from iside an Alvin submersible.

Rachel Lauer

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

Rachel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary. She was previously a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz.

Brett Carpenter stands in the Rock Mechanics lab.

Brett Carpenter

Ph.D., Geosciences / Penn State, 2012

Brett is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oklahoma.

Headshot of Shugang Wang.

Shugang Wang

Ph.D., Energy and Mineral Engineering / Penn State, 2012

Shugang is a geomechanics research scientist with Chevron.

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

Josh Taron

Ph.D., Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering / Penn State, 2009

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)
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 Assistant 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.

Andre Niemeijer explaining earthquake mechanics on television.

André Niemeijer

Post-doctoral Researcher 2006-2009

Andre is an Assistant Professor at the Universiteit Utrecht, The Hague, 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 of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University.

  • 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 Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. Previously she completed postdoctoral research positions at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

  • 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)
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 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

Demia Saffer stands in front of a dramatic mountain landscape.

Demian Saffer

Ph.D., Earth Sciences / University of California, Santa Cruz

Research Interests

  • Fluid pressure and active tectonics
  • Sediment Mechanics
  • Fluid transport in faults and fractures
  • Chemical and heat transport in the crust

Contact Demian Saffer