Research Topic

Cutting-Edge Analogue Modeling Techniques Applied to Study Earth Systems

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Our understanding of earth systems from mineral to global scale is built on field observations, geological and geophysical investigations and modeling. Since two hundred years, geologists have built analogue models aiming at understanding the physics leading to their field observations.

Such models ...

Our understanding of earth systems from mineral to global scale is built on field observations, geological and geophysical investigations and modeling. Since two hundred years, geologists have built analogue models aiming at understanding the physics leading to their field observations.

Such models provide three-dimensional high-resolution solutions to earth sciences problems and major technical breakthroughs allowed to shed light on numerous geological phenomena. From deep processes such as the core's convection to surface erosional processes, the main challenges of modelers are many folds:

Firstly, the governing physical processes in nature need to be isolated and adequate modeling techniques need to be identified. This will govern the applied boundary conditions, model material and will determine the limitations of the experiment. Experiments then have to be benchmarked against field or geophysical observations to ensure their relevance.

Secondly, novel materials need to be developed and tested with adequate physical properties such as rheology dependence on (i) strain; (ii) temperature and strain; (iii) composition, temperature and strain, such as materials able to generate a magnetic field or abilities to erode properly. For example, the lithosphere was historically modeled as a two to four-layer brittle/ductile sandwich to crudely approximate the seismically observed rheology. However, the recent development of semi brittle materials will change the way we construct lithosphere and crustal-scale models as we are now able to incorporate observations from the field where it is apparent that rocks have physical properties that are semi brittle rather than purely ductile or purely brittle.

Thirdly, a cutting-edge apparatus needs to be developed emulating physical parameters such as erosion through rain, over pressure or temperature gradients boxes. Designing and tuning relevant and novel earth science models often involve genuine engineering and technical developments.

And finally, the outcomes of the model need to be quantified with accurate tools such as particle image velocimetry (PIV), stress and strain sensors, strain maps, elevation maps (erosion rates, uplift rates), kinematics maps.

This Research Topic welcomes research papers that elaborate new materials and/or methods on the broad theme of "Analogue modeling applied to study structural geology and tectonics", from varied fields of research such as seismotectonics, volcanotectonics, hydrogeology and pore-fluid pressure, erosion and morphodynamics, rock physics, etc.


Keywords: physical modeling, new techniques, new materials


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