U-M geologist Ben van der Pluijm to discuss Earth’s faults, friction and fluids

October 12, 2011
Contact: Laura Lessnau llessnau@umich.edu


DATE: 4:10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

EVENT: Ben van der Pluijm, professor of earth and environmental sciences and professor of the environment in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, will deliver the Bruce R. Clark Collegiate Professorship in Geology Inaugural Lecture. The lecture is titled “Faults, Frictions and Fluids: Kaopectate for an Upset Earth.”

Professor van der Pluijm will discuss how friction, the resistance to sliding on a surface, is central to understanding the behavior of fault processes in nature?from sudden displacements in the form of earthquakes to steady, nonseismic displacements in the form of slow creep.

Leonardo da Vinci first observed some of the remarkable properties of friction, which were understood only centuries later. Modern observational and theoretical studies demonstrate the role and nature of contact surfaces, called asperities, in defining the sliding properties of materials.

van der Pluijm’s recent work on exhumed and drilled faults, from the Canadian Rockies to California’s San Andreas Fault and New Zealand’s Southern Alps, show the key role of clays and clay coatings as natural lubricants that promote low-friction (nonseismic) behavior.

PLACE: Rackham Amphitheater, Rackham Graduate School, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor

SPONSOR: The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, www.lsa.umich.edu