Christelle Wauthier is an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences. She also has a co-appointment in the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS).
Her research interests focus on the study of natural hazards by means of remote-sensing and geophysical techniques. She wishes to better understand how the “volcano factory” works in diverse geodynamic settings including the East African continental rift, Central America subduction arc and Hawaiian hot spot.
An overarching goal of her research is to reveal the sub-surface dynamics of volcanic systems using models of crustal deformation. She uses Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) remote-sensing methods to map crustal deformation and then model the sub-surface sources inducing the identified deformation.
She uses simple analytical modeling tools as well as more complex numerical methods, like boundary or finite element methods to take into account complex geometries, realistic topographies, and mechanical sources interaction. The volume of magma stored or transported can then be estimated and give insights on future eruption behavior and size. While modeled fault geometry, amount and location of slip can shed light on future seismic hazards. There are strong feedbacks between tectonic and magmatic processes.
By studying the interactions between those processes, she hopes to solve their causality and, even more broadly, better understands what triggers magma intrusions, larger volcano-tectonic earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. A thorough study and modeling of ground deformation, together with a stress change analysis, can provide clues on most likely magma transport pathways and areas/faults more prone to earthquake hazards.
Her research has deep impacts on societal issues as the geophysical signals registered can be used to assess and mitigate volcano, landslide, and earthquake hazards.