Henry L. Pierce Laboratory Seminar Series - Prof. Tiziana Vanorio

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Room 1-131

Concrete and Concrete-Like Rocks: Engineered by Humans, Inspired by Nature?

Ancient concrete would seem to have little to do with volcano geophysics. This presentation shows that the cementation of the caprock of an Italian caldera experiencing high-rate uplift together with low seismic efficiency and cores of Romanera concrete for which the region was known, require a similar set of chemical reactions to provide an intertwined sulfur-rich fibrous matrix. This microstructure is responsible for ductility, low permeability, and strength. While abundance in sulfur is expected in cemented, volcanic ash-beds from a caldera, its presence in both the matrix and lime of Roman concrete raises the question of its source as well as the nature of the lime-producing rock. By leveraging knowledge across geophysics, engineering and ancient literature we suggest that the lime-producing rock is a sulfurous, calc-alkaline volcanic rock from the manufacturing region rather than a typical carbonate rock, thus unraveling a process that the Ancients may have unwittingly exploited. 

Leveraging the connection between the effect of the chemistry of volcanic processes on the properties of cemented ash-beds and chemical processes that the ancient Romans may have possibly exploited is fascinating. It not only contributes to understanding how solid-fluid interactions influence rock strength in crustal settings but also helps open new perspectives for developing Earth-inspired materials from industrial by-products such as sulfur polymer binder.
Dr. Tiziana Vanorio is Assistant Professor in the Geophysics Department at Stanford University. She leads the Stanford Rock Physics Laboratory (SRPL) where, together with her students, uses laboratory and imaging techniques to investigate the response of the physical and mechanical properties of rocks to Earth’s conditions and processes. The work of her group focuses on understanding how rock-fluid interactions affect physical and mechanical properties of rocks and geomaterials. Specific applications of her research include the geophysical response of reservoirs, chemical processes affecting the physical and mechanical properties of caprock seals, and properties of ancient materials exposed to harsh Earth environments. Tiziana is a Marie Curie Fellow, the recipient of the 2018 Wegener Award by EAGE, 2015 NSF Career Award, and 2014 SPE Innovative Teaching Award.


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