Return to Homepage | Research | Teaching | Demian's Departmental Page | G3 Center | Geosciences Department


Geofluids Research Group at Penn State:




Matt Ikari (PhD student)

Matt is working on a series of laboratory experiments designed to investigate the mechanics of subduction megathrusts. O.J. is particularly interested in understanding the updip transition from aseismic creep to seismogenic slip along these plate boundary faults.


Web: Matt (O.J.) is a slacker and does not have a website.


Rachel Lauer (PhD student)

Rachel is using numerical models to investigate the impact of major splay faults on fluid budgets and pore pressure distribution at subduction zone plate boundaries. She also works with sub-seafloor hydrologic monitoring installations (i.e. “CORKS”), including a recent trip to the Costa Rican Trench to conduct hydrologic tests and download data from borehole instruments.


Maggie Popek (PhD student)

Maggie is investigating the role of groundwater flow, and heterogeneity in permeability in particular, in causing the high degree of scatter in observed heat flow data in the California Coast Ranges.


Web: Maggie arrived recently, but should have her website up soon.



Sam Haines (post-doc)

Sam received his PhD from the University of Michigan, where he worked on fault zone age dating and clay fabric analysis. For his post-doc at Penn State he is collaborating with Chris Marone and Demian Saffer on linking fault zone microstructure, fabric, composition, and frictional behavior, with a focus on low-angle normal faults.



Alison (Ali) Sacks (MS student)

Ali is working with a 3D seismic reflection dataset collected over the subduction plate boundary offshore SW Honshu Japan. Her research is focused on mapping faults within a major fore-arc basin, and using the fault population to characterize stress orientations.


Enrique Perez (MS student)

Enrique is investigating the effect of deformation bands on the permeability of sandstone reservoir analogs. He is working with samples from the McKinleyville Fault in Humboldt County, CA, and conducts laboratory permeability measurements.




File written by Adobe Photoshop® 5.2

Marie Gildow (BS Honors Student)

Marie is a BS thesis student. For her research, she is conducting laboratory consolidation tests on samples in the footwall of a major thrust fault at the subduction margin offshore SW Honshu, Japan, to characterize rock physical properties including permeability and compression behavior.



Close Affiliates:



Andy Rathbun (PhD Student)

Andy is measuring deformation and permeability behavior of a range of Earth materials, focusing on the rheology of glacial till, and the permeability of rocks in and around the San Andreas Fault zone.


Web: Link to Andy’s web page by clicking here.


Brett Carpenter (PhD student)

Brett is working on a project funded to measure frictional behavior of rocks surrounding the San Andreas Fault zone, including materials recovered from drilling across the fault as part of SAFOD.




Karl Taboga (PhD student, UWYO)

Karl is a PhD student at the University of Wyoming, who was my advisee from 2002–2004. Karl’s PhD thesis is focused on quantifying regional groundwater flow, recharge, flow rates, and hydraulic properties in a fractured sandstone aquifer in the Mountain West, near Laramie, WY. I am still working with Karl as he completes his PhD research.




Former Students & Post-docs:


Insun Song (Research Associate, 2006-2010)

Insun was a Research Associate in our group from October 2006 through January 2010, working with Saffer and Peter Flemings (now at Univ. Texas Austin). Insun worked on a laboratory-based study of sediment deformation behavior in complex stress states, with the goal of predicting pore pressure and stress in thrust belts. He also worked on measuring permeability of samples from the San Andreas Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) boreholes.

Insun is now a research scientist at the Korea Institute of Geology and Mining, and is working on CO2 sequestration.

Rob Skarbek (MS, 2007-2008)

Rob received his MS from Penn State in 2008. For his research, Rob used a combination of computer modeling and laboratory measurements of permeability and consolidation behavior to understand the development of elevated pore pressure along the subduction plate boundary offshore SW Honshu, Japan.

Rob is now a PhD student at the University of Oregon.

Patrick Fulton (PhD, 2002-2008)

Patrick received his PhD from Penn State in 2008. His research focused on understanding the role of fluids and fluid pressure in both heat transport and the mechanical strength of the crust around the San Andreas Fault, using numerical models to quantify these processes.

Patrick is now a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University.

Glenn Spinelli (MARGINS Post-doc, 2003)

Glenn was a MARGINS Post-doctoral fellow in 2003, and worked on a collaborative project with me and Mike Underwood (Univ. of Missouri) to understand sediment dehydration and compaction along the Costa Rican subduction zone.

Glenn is now an Assistant Professor at New Mexico Tech.

Alex McKiernan (MS, 2003-2005)

Alex finished a MS from the University of Wyoming in 2005. He worked on a modeling project to understand the evolution of pore water chemical anomalies at the Nankai Trough, and the implications for fluid flow, and fluid and chemical budgets.

Alex is now a diesel mechanic living in Vermont on an organic farm.

Aaron Payne (MS, 2003-2004)

Aaron’s MS thesis was based on a field and modeling study of the fate and transport of water co-produced with natural gas in the Powder River Basin, WY. Aaron conducted a detailed field campaign to study surface water – groundwater interactions and surface water budget of an instrumented watershed over a 3 year period.

Aaron is now a professional consulting geologist working out of Laramie, WY.

Brenda Rencher-Casey (MS student, UWYO, 2001-2003)

Brenda was an MS student at the University of Wyoming, co-advised by me and Marjorie Bedessem (Civil Engineering). Brenda’s thesis was focused on developing a groundwater protection scheme for the state of Wyoming using geological, hydrological, GIS, and cost-benefit analyses.

Brenda now lives outside of Denver, CO and works as a hydrogeologist.

Matthew Hornbach (PhD, 1999-2004)

Matt completed his PhD under the direction of Steve Holbrook at the University of Wyoming. His research focused on quantifying gas hydrate occurrence and properties using a 3-D seismic reflection study of the Blake Ridge. Matt worked closely with me to analyze the mechanical implications of free gas that may accumulate beneath the hydrate stability zone, and to model the thermal effects of sedimentation and erosion on the base of the stability zone.

Matt is currently a research scientist at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG).


Return to Homepage | Research | Teaching | Demian's Departmental Page | G3 Center | Geosciences Department