Robert C. Viesca

Assistant Professor (Associate Professor starting Sept. 2018)
Geosystems Engineering
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Tufts University
207 Anderson Hall
200 College Avenue
Medford, MA 02155

tel: +1 617 627 5165
fax: +1 617 627 3994

Research interests

My interests and research are in problems of theoretical mechanics in earth sciences and engineering involving the fields of seismology, tectonophysics, civil and environmental engineering, ocean sciences, and hydrology. Work on earthquake mechanics has focused on the stressing and strength of faults as relevant to the nucleation of earthquake-generating or aseismic rupture, its propagation, and the deformation of the adjacent environment. Studies of earth surface processes include subaerial and submarine landsliding and the hydrologic processes that may lead to such failure or that may otherwise shape the land or seafloor environments.


Frederic Cappa, Pierre Dublanchet, John D. Platt, Dmitry I. Garagash, Nicolas Brantut, Elizabeth L. Templeton-Barrett, James R. Rice

Current members of the research group

Pathikrit Bhattacharya (website), Postdoctoral Scholar; Ph.D., Geophysics, Princeton University; research interests include sliding friction, laboratory friction experiments, and implications for fault mechanics.

Sohom Ray (website), Graduate Student; B.S., Physics, University of Delhi; M. Tech., Applied Geophysics, IIT Roorkee; research interests include sliding friction, nonlinear instabilities, and relevance of both for earthquake nucleation.

Lichen Wang, Graduate Student; B.Eng, Geotechnical Engineering, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan; research interests include soil liquefaction, fracture mechanics and applications to slope stability, and geotechnical earthquake engineering.

Prospective members

Graduates interested in joining the group to pursue a Ph.D. or M.S. are encouraged to send an email and apply to join the department's Geosystems graduate program. See here for information on the application process.

Support for Tufts undergraduates is available through the Tufts Summer Scholars program. Support for department undergraduates is available from the Cataldo Fellowship (competitive process announced Spring term).

Recent and upcoming group presentations, travel, and seminars

APEC Cooperation for Earthquake Simulation, 10th International Workshop, 25-28 Sept. '18

GéoAzur (host: Frederic Cappa): R. C. Viesca, Visitor, 20-29 Jun. '18

Banff International Research Station, Workshop on Hydraulic Fracturing, 3-8 Jun. '18: R. C. Viesca, "Fluid-induced faulting"

EGU General Assembly 2018, 8-13 Apr. '18: Wang, L., S. Ray, P. Dublanchet, and R. C. Viesca, "Accelerated creep of a landslide with slip rate and state dependent basal friction," Session: NH3.7/GM7.4/SSS13.48 Mechanics of Mass Flows

Geometry and Dynamics Seminar Series, Brandeis University: P. Bhattacharya, 29 Mar. '18

Dynamics Days 2018, 4-6 Jan. '18: Ray, S., and R. C. Viesca, "Self-similar solutions and bifurcations of earthquake-nucleating slip instabilities under spatially variable parameters"

AGU Fall Meeting 2017, 11-15 Dec. '17: Aubin, P. W., and R. C. Viesca, "Aseismic slip of a thin slab due to a fluid source," Abstract T52C-03

AGU Fall Meeting 2017, 11-15 Dec. '17: Bhattacharya, P., and R. C. Viesca, "Data-driven fault mechanics: Inferring fault hydro-mechanical properties from in situ observations of injection-induced aseismic slip," Abstract S43C-0876

Mechanical Instabilities in Solids and Fluids, Israel Institute of Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 16-19 Oct. '17


Viesca, R. C., and P. Dublanchet, The slow slip of viscous faults, subm. to Journal of Geophysical Research, 2018. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/S6G4F. (pdf)

Viesca, R. C., and D. I. Garagash, Numerical methods for coupled fracture problems, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 113, 13–34, 2018. doi:10.1016/j.jmps.2018.01.008 (pdf)

Ray, S., and R. C. Viesca, Earthquake nucleation on faults with heterogeneous frictional properties, normal stress, Journal of Geophysical Research, 122, 8214–8240, 2017. doi:10.1002/2017JB014521 (pdf)

Brantut, N., and R. C. Viesca, The fracture energy of ruptures driven by flash heating, Geophysical Research Letters, 44, 6718–6725, 2017. doi:10.1002/2017GL074110 (pdf, suppl.)

Viesca, R. C., Self-similar slip instability on interfaces with rate- and state-dependent friction, Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 472(2192), 20160254, 2016. doi:10.1098/rspa.2016.0254 (pdf, suppl.)

Viesca, R. C., Stable and unstable development of an interfacial sliding instability, Physical Review E, 93(6), 060202(R), 2016. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.93.060202 (pdf, suppl.)

Platt, J. D., R. C. Viesca, and D. I. Garagash, Steadily propagating slip pulses driven by thermal decomposition, Journal of Geophysical Research, 120, B12200, 2015. doi:10.1002/2015JB012200 (pdf)

Viesca, R. C., and D. I. Garagash, Ubiquitous weakening of faults due to thermal pressurization, Nature Geoscience, 8(11), 875–879, 2015. doi:10.1038/ngeo2554 (article, pdf, supp., addl. supp.)

Brantut, N., and R. C. Viesca, Earthquake nucleation in intact or healed rocks, Journal of Geophysical Research, 119, B11518, 2015. doi:10.1002/2014JB011518 (pdf)

Viesca, R. C., and J. R. Rice, Nucleation of slip-weakening rupture instability in landslides by localized increase of pore pressure, Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, B03104, 2012. doi:10.1029/2011JB008866 (pdf)

Viesca, R. C., The near and far of pore pressure during landslide and earthquake ruptures, Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, August 2011. (pdf)

Viesca, R. C., and J. R. Rice, Elastic reciprocity and symmetry constraints on the stress field due to a surface-parallel distribution of dislocations, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 59, 2011, pp. 753–757. doi:10.1016/j.jmps.2011.01.011 (pdf)

Viesca, R. C., and J. R. Rice, Modeling slope instability as shear rupture propagation in a saturated porous medium, in Submarine Mass Movements and Their Consequences, 4th International Symposium, Austin, TX, 8–11 Nov. 2009., (eds. D.C. Mosher, R.C. Shipp, L. Moscardelli, J.D. Chaytor, C.D.P. Baxter, H. J. Lee, R. Urgeles), Springer, 2010, pp. 215–225. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3071-9_18 (pdf) (presentation broadcast)

Viesca, R. C., E. L. Templeton, and J. R. Rice, Off-Fault Plasticity and Earthquake Rupture Dynamics, 2. Effects of Fluid Saturation, Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, B09307, 2008. doi:10.1029/2007JB005530 (pdf) (part 1: Templeton & Rice pdf)

Professional Appointments and Education

2012 - present, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University
2011 - 2012, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Civil and Resource Engineering, Dalhousie University (with Dmitry I. Garagash)
2011, Ph. D., 2006, S. M., Engineering Sciences, Harvard University (with James R. Rice)
2005, B.S., Civil Engineering, Tufts University
(see also curriculum vitae)

(Last update: 29 June 2018)