Geology and Geological Engineering

Dr. Timothy Masterlark
Geophysics and Numerical Modeling
Research Teaching People News & Links Publications CV

Dr. Timothy Masterlark

PhD University of Wisconsin (2000)

Summary stats:
h-index: 24
citations: 1600+
ResearchGate Score: 31

Research synopsis

Fluid-solid coupling drives the dynamic systems of volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Magma-filled dikes propagate within active volcanoes. Megathrust earthquakes shift the seafloor and excite tsunami waves in the overlying ocean. These earthquakes also transfer stress to the surrounding region. Diffusive flow of pore fluids in the crust and viscous flow of the mantle relax these stresses, producing delayed aftershocks. We may extend these principles to energy production and geothermal systems. Hydrofracking propagates fluid-filled fractures that unlock hydrocarbons or supercritical steam. The waste fluids are disposed of via deep injection, from which stress and fluid pressure perturbations trigger seismicity.

My research team pioneers methods to embed Abaqus-based Finite Element Models in nonlinear inverse analyses of geophysical information to quantify Earth's internal structures, materials, and deformation sources. Example targets span the globe (Aleutians, Cascadia, Ecuador, Chile, China, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Sumatra, USA).


Mine is a story of discipline. Discipline is the foundation for the strength and courage necessary to engage life. Discipline underpins the humility needed to listen and extend kindness. When we fall, discipline picks us up.

An achievment is the net assembly of small steps. The impact of the achievement, or its very existence, is strongly controlled by the discipline to focus on the execution and quality of each step. So you identified your objective and laid out the plan to achieve it? Now there is only one path. Exercise your discipline and focus on the here and now -execute a step.
  • Writing a dissertation? A step can be a single paragraph or figure. Do this every day and your dissertation will emerge very quickly.
  • Want to attack a physical challenge? A step can be a single push-up with flawless form. Your increases in strength and confidence will become a positive feedback loop that will leave you hungry for more.
  • Want to engage a life-altering crucible event? Add another sandbag to your burden rather than looking for ways to lighten the load. Low crawl over that muddy trail rather than moving to the dry high ground. Wade across that cold stream rather than look for a bridge. Run through the rain and snow in a t-shirt rather than retreat into the comfort of a gore-tex jacket. Challenges to the mind and body are two sides of the same coin. Tear down those walls of conventional thinking that shackle your life.
Execute one step, then two, then three, and continue until the objective is achieved. Oftentimes, this may require assemblies of assemblies of steps. What matters is to focus on each step and let the assembly naturally fall out. Approach this path with unrelenting discipline. Keep what works and discard the rest. Looking for some inspiration? Follow me on twitter.

Latest update: August 2019
FEMs of mega-earthquakes: Viscoelastic relaxation translates to postseismic deformation and stress.

FEM of Tungurahua Volcano: This model simulates deformation caused by a pressurized dike embedded in the complex domain of an active volcano.

Hydrofracking simulations: Abaqus XFEM simulates the propagation of a fluid-filled fracture in a 2D domain.
contact: Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, 501 E. Saint Joseph St., SDSMT, Rapid City, SD 57701
phone: (605)394-2461 / fax: (605)394-6703 / email: