NSF Supports Resor’s Fault Slip Study

Phil Resor, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, received a $246,728 grant from the National Science Foundation for his study on “Three Dimensional Characterization of a Pseudotachylyte-bearing Fault.” The grant was awarded on March 15 and expires on June 30, 2014.

In this study, Resor and Wesleyan students will use high-resolution x-ray computed tomography imagery of natural and experimental fault surfaces to quantify surface roughness, frictional contact area, and Pseudotachylyte fault rock thickness. “Pseudotachylytes are generally considered the only unequivocal evidence of earthquake slip velocities that is preserved in fault zones,” Resor explains.

The proposed project will improve the understanding of earthquakes and their effects, one of the primary goals of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program. Furthermore, the project will establish a new collaboration between Wesleyan and scientists from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), a world-renowned research institute in Italy.

“Undergraduate students will play an integral role in the project, planting the seeds for future international and interdisciplinary research into the processes of brittle deformation in the earth’s crust,” Resor says. “These students will experience the full scope of the scientific process, from hypothesis generation, to study design, to presentation of results at professional meetings and in a written thesis.”