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Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG)

California Institute of Technology

Last Reviewed: 04/23/2019

Center Mission and Rationale

Mission: To advance the understanding of geomaterials failure in the presence of fluids  for industry applications and geohazard mitigation by leveraging cutting-edge modeling, computing, experimental, geophysical, and remote-sensing research

As modern societies grow in size and complexity, needs for energy are increasing, and natural hazards, such as earthquakes and landslides, threaten the economic stability of urban centers, the structural integrity and smooth operation of their interconnected infrastructure systems, and the safety of the public. The growth and prosperity of economies centered around the extraction of fossil fuels, like the U.S., depends on (i) the effective and efficient extraction of oil/gas and geothermal resources; (ii) diminishing the impact of energy production and consumption on climate through CO2 sequestration, utilization and storage; and (iii) mitigating the risk posed by natural hazards, such as earthquakes and landslides, to the infrastructure systems that, in part, transmit and distribute energy resources to the public. Furthermore, with the observed increase of induced seismicity, it is important to develop methodologies to characterize the secondary effects of oil/gas extraction or geothermal heat production, quantify the consequences of these effects on infrastructure adjacent to the extraction sites, and develop early warning systems and protection strategies to optimally balance energy production and public safety.

These challenges all call for improved understanding of how geomaterials fail when subjected to hydro-mechanical effects, such as fluid pumping in or out of the subsurface or slope instabilities induced by ground shaking, rainfall, or combinations of the above.

The Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG) enables a synergetic research effort in that direction. The Center gathers stake-holders from the industry and government agencies a well as scientists and engineers at Caltech with diverse expertise spanning geophysics, geology, remote sensing, computational mechanics, fracture mechanics, and applied mathematics.

Research program

Ground Failure and Infrastructure

Better estimation of near-surface strain due to seismic or aseismic faulting and ground failure hazard for distributed infrastructures.

Fluids in the Subsurface

Determination of pore pressure distribution, fluid pathways, and fluid flow due to pumping into or out of the subsurface. Forecasting and control of the ground deformation.

Induced Seismicity

Understanding the conditions that lead to earthquakes vs. slow deformation. Better cost-effective monitoring and forecasting of seismicity with quantification of uncertainties. Traffic Light system

Hydraulic Fracturing

Optimization and control of fracture geometry and sweep, effective utilization of proppants through modeling and cost-effective monitoring.

Special Activities

GMG Fall Meeting in Pasadena, CA

December 3 - 5, 2019
If you plan on attending this event, please make sure to register.

IUCRC: Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG) IAB Meeting

12/3 - 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM - Deep Dive

12/4 - 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM - GMG IUCRC Meeting
12/5- 8:00 am - noon (open to current IAB members)
Location: California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California, Pasadena, CA 91125.

This is an annual meeting of the industry advisory board to review current research projects. Visitors interested in membership are welcome if they are willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The GMG IAB meeting is open to current and prospective center members, participating faculty, and their students.

Facilities and Laboratory

  1. Modeling of geomaterials: multiscale rheology, hydro-fracturing, damage, rupture, earthquake sequences, landslides, liquefaction, site effects 
  2. Unique experiments: laboratory earthquakes on fluid injection, hydrofracturing, debris flow plume
  3. Advanced algorithms: data analysis tools, network design, high-performance computing
  4. Innovative imaging and data: So Cal Seismic Network, Community Seismic Network, GPS and InSAR, structured and dense arrays, geology
  5. Hazard assessment and mitigation: physics-based approaches, early warning, structural health monitoring, distributed infrastructure networks


California Institute of Technology

1200 E. California Blvd.

Pasadena, California, 91125

United States