Robert C. Viesca

Associate Professor
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

10-14 June '19: CISM summer school on fracture mechanics in earth sciences and engineering, Udine, Italy

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.


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

Prospective members of the research group

Postdoctoral scholars—or those soon to be one—with similar interests and in search of a postdoctoral position are encouraged to send an email.

Graduates interested to join the group in pursuit of a Ph.D. are also 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).

Former members

Parker Aubin, Geotechnical Engineer, GEI Consultants, Chicago, IL, office. Formerly, M.S. Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Pathikrit Bhattacharya (website), Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Sciences, IIT Bhubaneswar. Previously, Postdoctoral Scholar, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Sohom Ray (website), Postdoctoral fellow, Dalhousie University. Formerly, Ph.D. Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering. 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, Geotechnical Engineer, Kleinfelder, Boston, MA, office. Formerly, M.S. Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Recent and upcoming group presentations, travel, and seminars

Ph.D. dissertation defense, 8 Aug. '19: S. Ray, "Earthquake nucleation with heterogeneous physical properties"

Mardi Séisme Seminar, Laboratoire GéoAzur, 18 Jun. '19 : R. C. Viesca, "Scaling and self-similarity in models for quasi-static (slow) fault slip"

Laboratoire GéoAzur (hosts: Jean-Paul Ampuero and Frederic Cappa): R.C. Viesca, Chercheur Invité, 17 Jun. '19 - 12 Jul. '19.

CISM school, Coupled processes in fracture propagation in geomaterials: from hydraulic fractures to earthquakes, 10-14 Jun. '19 (course flyer)

Geodynamics Seminar, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 8 Apr. '19: R.C. Viesca.

Geophysics Department Thompson Fellowship Seminar, Stanford University, 14 Mar. '19: S. Ray.

AGU Fall Meeting 2018, 10-14 Dec. '18: Ray, S., and R. C. Viesca, "Slip instability and aseismic slip under multiple length scales of frictional heterogeneity," Abstract T43B-08

AGU Fall Meeting 2018, 10-14 Dec. '18: R. C. Viesca, "State evolution laws and earthquake nucleation," Abstract S43C-0612

Workshop on Modeling Earthquake Source Processes, Caltech Seismologlical Laboratory, 8-10 Oct. '18

APEC Cooperation for Earthquake Science, 10th International Workshop, 25-28 Sept. '18: R. C. Viesca, "Friction laws, elasticity, and earthquake nucleation"

2018 SCEC Annual Meeting, 9-12 Sep. '18: R. C. Viesca and P. Dublanchet, "The slow slip of viscous faults"

2018 SCEC Annual Meeting, 9-12 Sep. '18: P. Bhattacharya and R. C. Viesca, "Fluid-induced aseismic slip can outpace pore-fluid migration: evidence from in situ data"


Ray, S., and R. C. Viesca, Homogenization of fault frictional properties, Geophysical Journal International, 219, 1203–1211, 2019. doi:10.1093/gji/ggz327 (pdf)

Viesca, R. C., and P. Dublanchet, The slow slip of viscous faults, Journal of Geophysical Research, 124, 4959–4983, 2019. doi:10.1029/2018JB016294 (pdf)

Bhattacharya, P., and R. C. Viesca, Fluid-induced aseismic fault slip outpaces pore-fluid migration, Science, 364(6439), 464–468, 2019. doi:10.1126/science.aaw7354. (article)

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

2018 - present, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University
2012 - 2018, 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: 4 September 2019)