The nucleation, growth, and coalescence of microfractures control the preparation process of large-scale catastrophic failure in geomaterials

When brittle materials are loaded, numerous microfractures may nucleate, grow, and coalesce before a major catastrophic rupture.

This mechanical behavior occurs in various materials such as cements, metals, ice, and rocks of the Earth’s crust where earthquake occurs. However, the origin and evolution of these microfractures are not understood and could be used to monitor and predict the occurrence of major earthquakes.

Using state-of-the-art rock physics experiments performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF, Grenoble, France), the candidate will perform deformation experiments of rocks approaching failure (4D X-ray microtomography) and analyze these data using several computer science approaches including supervised and unsupervised learning techniques.

The work will also include numerical mechanical modelling of fracture network development. The main question will be to identify how the precursors to failure in rocks and other brittle materials localize on the future fracture plane when approaching failure.

The PhD candidate will be supervised by François Renard, professor of Geosciences at the Njord Centre, a cross-disciplinary research unit at the interface between Physics and Geosciences at the University of Oslo. The candidate may perform several short- and long-term internships at the ESRF under the supervision of Dr. Benoit Cordonnier.


  • MSc in physics or geophysics, preferably in condensed-matter physics, or computational physics or geophysics.
  • Candidates with documented experience in scientific programming, geomechanics, and experience from machine learning will be prioritized.


Professor Francois Renard

Researcher Bennoit Cordonnier

Call 2: Project start autumn 2022

This project is in call 2, starting autumn 2022. 

Published Aug. 24, 2020 4:29 PM - Last modified Nov. 17, 2020 3:22 PM