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Current Research Projects

LuSi - Mud Eruption

On May 26, 2006 a magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred in Yogyakarta on the Indonesian Island of Java. About 48 hours later, in the town of Sidoarjo about 250 km from the earthquake epicentre, mud began to spill out onto the surface. Lusi combines LUmpar (mud) and SIdoarjo where it occurred. Lusi quickly accelerated in output, peaking in August of 2006 with eruption rates up to 180,000 cubic meters of mud per day. All attempts at restricting flow have failed, and no one is sure when it might stop.  Recent research into what triggered this natural disaster (Lupi et. al., Nature Geoscience 2013) showed that the underlying geologic layers prior to the eruption formed a parabolic shape that reflected and focussed the incoming seismic energy into an existing over pressured claystone layer beginning at a depth of about 1000 m. The amplification of energy liquefied the layer, allowing it to travel to the surface along a tectonic scale fault that runs through the center of the mud eruption.

In a project funded by SNF, we are investigating this newborn tectonic-scale hydrothermal system using geophysical techniques, numerical modelling, and photogrammetry to try and understand its current dynamics, its long-term behaviour, and the hydrothermal connection to a nearby volcano complex.

Collaborators: Professor S. Miller (earthquake physics and hazards associated with potential liquefaction of the mud crust to incoming seismic energy); Dr. B. Malvoisin (Post-Doc), modelling liquefaction and modelling chemical processes of the mud/hydrothermal system; Dr. G. Mauri (Post-Doc), photogrammetry, geophysical field measurements; R. Sohrabi (PhD student), M. Faubert (Masters student).

Deep Geothermal Energy Research

As part of the of the board of the Swiss Competence Center of Energy Research - Supply of Electricity (SCCER-SoE) the Laboratory of Geothermics focuses on following research thematics and projects:

- Rock mechanics simulator based on the new Graphical Processing Units (GPU) technology

Collaborators: Prof Stephen A. Miller, Dr Boris Galvan

- Modeling permeability and stimulation for "deep heat mining"

Collaborators: Prof. Stephen A. Miller, Gunnar Jansen (PhD student)

- Development and implementation of the next generation of Thermal-Hydraulic-Mechanical-Chemical models (THMC)

THMC- models are useful for the testing and installation of future technologies for geothermal energy exploitation.

Collaborators: Prof Stephen A. Miller, Reza Sohrabi (PhD student)