2011 James K. Knowles Lecture
and Caltech Solid Mechanics Symposium


James K. Knowles Lecture

January 19, 2011, Beckman Institute Auditorium

The 2nd annual James K. Knowles Lecture and Caltech Solid Mechanics Symposium was held on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, in the Beckman Institute Auditorium. The James K. Knowles Lecture by James R. Rice, Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics, Harvard University, was followed by the Solid Mechanics Symposium with presentations by current Caltech graduate students and postdocs.

The Lecture and Symposium are in memory of James K. Knowles, William J. Keenan, Jr. Professor of Applied Mechanics, Emeritus, who passed away on November 1, 2009. He is well known for his research contributions to the theory of nonlinear elasticity and the mathematical theories of materials and structures. Dr. Knowles inspired and influenced generations of students and scholars and authored over one hundred journal publications, as well as a textbook for graduate students entitled Linear Vector Spaces and Cartesian Tensors (Oxford University Press).

The Lecture and Symposium will be held annually and are made possible by the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and the support of family, friends and colleagues through donations to the James K. Knowles Memorial Fund.

"Mechanics Applied to Earth and Environment"

by James R. Rice, Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics, Harvard University

Jim Knowles set the bar high for conceptual rigor in mechanics research, for great teaching, and for being the thoughtful, kind and delightful friend and colleague who we all admired and remember. His rigor is not easily matched in any domain, and that is all the more so with the challenging and messy problems of understanding Earth and environmental processes. Here I will briefly survey areas of recent interest in that domain and then go into a little detail on studies with colleagues on topics from some of them. Those include the dynamics of rapid meltwater underflooding of ice sheets, the generation of tsunamis and what their waveforms can tell us about the possibly branched rupture in a causative subduction earthquake, the thermo-hydro-mechanics of rapidly shearing fault material, and the nucleation of submarine landslide failures on remarkably shallow slopes. Those all involve coupling between solid and fluid mechanics because the media of interest are fluidinfiltrated, or have suddenly become so (e.g., by a natural hydraulic fracture, or by volatile-releasing decompositions), or because rupture in the solid phase generates waves in an adjacent sea.

James R. Rice

James R. Rice has been at Harvard University since 1981, where he is Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics. He is jointly appointed in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Before joining the Harvard faculty, he spent 17 years in the Division of Engineering at Brown University. He received his BS, MS, and PhD from Lehigh University in Engineering Mechanics and Applied Mechanics. His current research is on geomechanics, principally on the science of earthquakes, including fault friction, thermal weakening processes in seismic slip, dynamic rupture propagation, and related aspects of tsunami generation. He also studies glacier and ice-sheet dynamics, submarine landslides, and general pore fluid interactions with deformation and failure of earth materials. His earlier work addressed elastic-plastic crack propagation in metals, path-independent integrals in elasticity, wave effects in crack dynamics, microscopic mechanisms of fracture, thermodynamics of interfacial embrittlement, inelastic constitutive relations for solids, deformation localization into shear zones, and finite-element and spectral numerical methodology in solid mechanics. Website

Caltech Solid Mechanics Symposium

Speakers and Topics

Michael Mello, Graduate Student, Caltech
"Identifying the Unique Ground Motion Signatures of Supershear Earthquakes: Theory and Experiments"

Ting Chen, Graduate Student, Caltech
"Study of Small Repeating Earthquakes in a Rate and State Fault Model"

Sylvain Barbot, Postdoctoral Scholar, Caltech
"Seismic Streaks and Holes: Geometric Control of the Parkfield Mw6.0 Earthquakes"

Qiushi Chen, Graduate Student, Caltech
"Multiscale Localization Modeling in Granular Materials"

Nicholas Boechler, Graduate Student, Caltech
"Energy Localization in Granular Crystals"

Jinkyu Yang, Postdoctoral Scholar, Caltech
"Site-Specific Quantification of Bone Quality Using Highly Nonlinear Solitary Waves"

Tim Sullivan, Postdoctoral Scholar, Caltech
"Optimal Uncertainty Quantification and Certification of Material Response"

Olive Stohlman, Graduate Student, Caltech
"Position Accuracy of Jointed Deployable Masts"

Shuman Xia, Postdoctoral Scholar, Caltech
"Full-Field Stress Measurement in Single Crystals for Study of Anisotropic Fracture"

Christopher Kovalchick, Graduate Student, Caltech
"Cohesive Zone Law Extraction from an Experimental Peel Test for Soft Adhesive Materials"

Shelby Hutchens, Graduate Student, Caltech
"In Situ Experiments and Modeling of Deformation in Carbon Nanotube Micro-Pillars"

Related Links

Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering