Crustal Deformation and Fluid Flow

The group of Crustal Deformation and Fluid Flow at the University of Geneva investigates crustal processes combining geophysical and numerical methods with geological observations.

The Group

We are interested in the mutual interaction between fluid flow and seismic activity that is modulated by the state of stress of the crust. Vertical migration of deep fluids can either reduce the effective differential stress acting on geological structures leading to fault slip and/or hydrofracturing or vice-versa be triggered by seismic activity itself. An increasing number of observations highlights the sporadic occurrence in the crust of extremely rapid (days to years) vertical fluid flow separated by periods dominated by slow fluid diffusion. The fast upwelling of deep fluids is accompanied by short-lived permeability enhancements that are therefore associated with intense seismic and micro-seismic activity. These dynamics are more frequent in regions characterized by fluid pressures close to lithostatic where external factors such as distant earthquakes can alter the physical state of the crust.

The group is currently formed by Matteo Lupi (Assist. Prof), Thomas Planes (Maitre Assistant), Nicolas Barbosa (PostDoc), Antoine Haddad (PhD student), Marion Alcanie (PhD student), Elliot Amir Jiwani-Brown (PhD student) and Veronica Sofia Ferreira Antunes (PhD). We carry on various projects across the globe (i.e. in Sumatra, Java, Chile, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, and Turkey) related to fault reactivation, earthquake-earthquake and earthquake-volcano interaction, hydrothermal and geothermal systems and mud volcanic environments.

We focus on both fundamental and applied geological/geo-engineering problems. More specifically, we investigate earthquake physics and geothermal exploration in Switzerland and abroad using a multidisciplinary approach. Earthquake physics has important implications for the development of our society and the understanding of natural hazards. Recently, we discovered some precursory sign of seismic activity in a system characterised by elevated fluid pressures at depth. The observations that we provided are regarded as extremely encouraging but they do require the acquisition of additional seismic data targeted to specific geological environments. For what concerns the more applied side of the research of my group, geothermal energy is to date one of the most promising resources of renewable energy for Switzerland. In this context the Canton of Geneva is actively investigating the feasibility of geothermal energy exploitation in the Great Geneva Basin. We actively collaborate with SIG (Services Industriels de Genève) on several fronts ranging from crustal fluid flow to seismic activity in the Great Geneva Basin.



Matteo Lupi


Guy Simpson


Research Associates

Marine Collignon


Nicolas Barbosa


Thomas Planès


PhD Students

Antoine Haddad


Elliot Jiwani-Brown


Marion Alcanié


Verónica Ferreira Antunes


Group Former Members

Aurore Carrier

Giovanni Luca Cardello

Jie Li