Program > Keynote Speakers > Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte

Characterization of Fractures using Dynamic Diagnostics
Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte
Department of Physics & Astronomy, College of Science, Purdue University, USA

Dr. Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte is a Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, College of Science, at Purdue University.  She holds courtesy appointments in the Lyle School of Civil Engineering and in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, also in the College of Science. Dr. Pyrak-Nolte holds a B.S. in Engineering Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, an M.S. in Geophysics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

Her interests include applied geophysics, experimental and theoretical seismic wave propagation, rock mechanics, micro-fluidics, particle swarms, and fluid flow through Earth materials.  In 1995, Dr. Pyrak-Nolte received the Schlumberger Lecture Award from the International Society of Rock Mechanics.  In 2013, she was made a Fellow of the American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA).  Currently she the President of ARMA and president-elect of the International Society for Porous Media.


Mechanical discontinuities, such as fractures, in rock occur on a range of length scales and are easily perturbed by physical processes that change the condition of a fracture, i.e. the resultant geometry of two rough surfaces in contact or fluids filling the fracture.  Fracture geometry affects mechanical stability, controls fluid flow through a fracture, and influences energy partitioning that affects wave scattering.  Our ability to monitor fracture evolution is controlled by the frequency of the signal used to probe a fracture system, i.e. frequency selects the scales.  This ensures that some set of discontinuities will be optimal for detection because different wavelengths sample different subsets of fractures.  Dynamic trajectories are a potential approach to drive a fracture system across observation scales, i.e. moving systems between effective medium and scattering regimes.  Dynamic trajectories can be used to perturb fracture geometry to enhance scattering or give rise to discrete modes that are intimately related to the micro-structural evolution of a fracture.  However, identification of these signal features will require methods for identification these micro-structural signatures in complicated scattered fields.