Buscarnera Research Group - Geomechanical Modeling @ Northwestern

  Northwestern University, Department of Civil and Enviromental Engineering


The goal of our group is to gain a fundamental insight into the mechanics of geological materials, as well as into the natural and technological systems that are controlled by their stress-strain response. Our long-term objective is to strengthen the impact of the geomechanics community in the interpretation, management and mitigation of geological, environmental and energy-related risks, i.e. societal challenges in which the multi-physical processes taking place in earthen materials play a pivotal role.

Our research focuses on the interaction between mechanical processes and the environmental agents able to originate uncontrolled deformations into natural deposits. For this purpose we aim to understand, characterize and simulate the deformation response of the solids that constitute man-made earthen structures, as well as the Earth’s surface and its upper lithosphere. The main emphasis of our research is on the effect of non-mechanical perturbations, such as multi-phase flow, chemical interactions and thermal fluctuations. The problems that we address span across multiple-length scales, from the microscopic compounds forming soils and rocks, to the natural hillslopes that constitute a landscape and interact with infrastructures. As a result, we use a broad set of tools ranging from theoretical mechanics, constitutive modeling and analytical/computational methods.

Topics of interest include unsaturated soil behavior, instabilities in multi-phase porous solids, chemical degradation of particulate materials, hydrologic processes in crushable soils and the high-pressure compaction of granular rocks. Discovery of multi-physical phenomena that may facilitate advancements in the assessment of natural hazards, as well as in the design of functional infrastructural materials and the optimization of energy technologies is central to our long-term research objectives.