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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Michele Cooke

Subject Categories

Geology | Geophysics and Seismology | Journalism Studies | Tectonics and Structure


When the rocks that make up the Earth suddenly break, they often generate earthquakes. Understanding the physical processes that control rock fracture mechanics is thus invaluable in better assessment of earthquake hazard. The first three chapters of this dissertation present work that examines the mechanical behavior of rocks using computational methods benchmarked against rock deformation experiments and observations of crustal faulting. Chapter 1 introduces the core computational method used in these studies, Growth by Optimization of Work, a code that uses energy minimization principles to forecast unique solutions for fracture propagation that are not achievable with traditional failure criteria. Chapter 2 presents a published study that incorporates hundreds of randomly oriented microcracks that represent the inherent weakness and heterogeneity of rocks to explore how explicit consideration of that heterogeneity impacts fracture propagation and the components of energy involved in fracture growth. Chapter 3 introduces a proposal for comparing the localization of failure under varied initial conditions reflecting the natural variance of crustal rocks. Chapter 4 is a reflection on science communication work performed in a variety of platforms: radio and podcast, television, web articles, and press releases about Earth science and other STEM fields. Chapter 5 is a worldview article published in a science journal as part of a pride month theme, discussing the need for the scientific community to recognize and address the challenges faced by transgender scientists in particular, and scientists with minoritized identities more broadly, because science is not performed in a vacuum.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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Available for download on Saturday, February 01, 2025