Yannick Caniven

Yannick Caniven

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a postdoctoral researcher scientist in Earth & Planetary Sciences.

Advisor: Jessica Hawthorne.

My overall research interests

My research interests focus on fault mechanics and kinematics from long-term geological fault growth to seismic cycle time-scales, and specifically investigate slip processes from slow to fast earthquakes. I’m interested in understanding how mechanical parameters (e.g., friction, stiffness, crustal thickness, stress), boundary conditions (e.g., loading rate, relaxation time), and fault structure (e.g., segmentation, damage, structural inheritance) control the processes governing fault slip behaviors. To address these questions, I develop numerical and analog models, and perform geological observations (fault damage quantification) and morpho-structural measurements on ancient and active faults. Understanding the fault processes is critical to scientific and societal issues such as “Seismic hazard” and “Natural reservoirs resources“.

What I’m doing at the University of Oxford

My recent modeling works at Rice University (Houston) (Caniven et al., 2021) revealed interesting results on the ability of slow events to simply stop or to turn into fast instabilities, depending on the strain pattern (especially volumetric strain) that develops around the local slow slipping zone. In regards to these results and despite the model limitations, I believe that investigations of ongoing contemporary slow-earthquakes are critical for improving seismic hazard assessment.

At the University of Oxford, in addition to other new types of models and tools, I propose to use, adapt and develop new numerical models based on the Discrete Element Method (DEM) to directly address the present specific questions of the Oxford earthquake mechanics group, that is: Which fault zone processes/properties generate slow-earthquakes? How to explain the observed scaling of slow-earthquakes, considering moment, duration, and slip-rate?

The video above shows an example of sequence generated by the strike-slip DEM model presented in Caniven et al., (2021). It illustrates the evolution of particle displacements at the global DEM model scale, here during the occurrence of a fast earthquake sequence (labeled ‘Eq4’ in the Figure 7 of Caniven et al., 2021). Note the slow nucleation of slip associated with the precursory dilation (see Figure 7b in the paper) before the onset of the dynamic stage and propagation of displacement waves.


I think that such DEM models are fully adapted to the project considering their ability to generate numerous earthquake cycles through a broad range of events characterized by various slip rates.

One of the main advantages of the DEM method is that it allows large displacements between the particles unlike the boundary element method, for which equations are derived in the small-strain approximation, i.e in linear elasticity. The DEM implies elasto-frictional contacts assigned between particles, providing a nonlinear force-displacement relationship. This allows for dealing with finite elasticity without the introduction of unrealistic artificial stress concentrations along the fault. As a consequence, unlike the boundary element method, the asperities in contact can slide past other each other, producing a more natural behavior. This is especially useful for investigating the mechanical processes that control the deformation of bulk materials that fracture and fault at all scales from the smaller asperity size.

Using the large catalog of slow events generated by the model, the goal would be to characterize the scaling laws that emerge from the relationships between considered parameters (moment, duration, slip-rate) with the great advantage to look into the mechanical processes that control each of events. This should bring out new insights especially about the role of fault shear-induced dilatancy, roughness, and fault segmentation on the observed trends.

  1. Caniven, Y., Morgan, J., Blank, D. (2021). The role of Along Fault Dilatancy in Fault Slip Behavior. Journal of Geophysical ResearchSolid Earth, 126, e2021JB022310. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JB022310
  2. Blank, D., Morgan, J., & Caniven, Y. (2021). Geometrically controlled slow slip enhanced by seismic waves: A mechanism for delayed triggering. Earth and Planetary Science Letters554, 116695. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0012821X20306397.

  3. Caniven, Y. & Dominguez S. (2021). Validation of a multilayered analog model integrating crust-mantle viscoelastic coupling to investigate subduction megathrust earthquake cycle. Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth126, e2020JB020342. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JB020342

  4. *Mayolle S., Soliva R., Dominguez S., Wibberley C., Caniven Y. (2021). Nonlinear fault damage zone scaling revealed through analog modeling. Geology, v49, https://doi.org/10.1130/G48760.1

  5. Garcia-Estève, C., Caniven, Y., Cattin, R., Dominguez, S., Sylvain, R. (2021). Morphotectonic Evolution of an Alluvial Fan: Results of a Joint Analog and Numerical Modeling Approach. Geosciences., 11(10):412. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11100412

  6. *Mayolle, S., Soliva , R., Caniven, Y.,, Wibberley, C.A.J, Ballas G., Milesi G., Dominguez S. (2019). Scaling of fault damage zones in carbonate rocks. Journal of Structural Geology, 124, 35-50. doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2019.03.007. pdf link

  7. Caniven, Y., Dominguez, S., Soliva, R., Peyret, M., Cattin, F., Maerten. (2017). Relationships between along-fault heterogenous normal stress and fault slip patterns during the seismic cycle: Insights from a strike-slip fault laboratory model. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 480, 147-157, ISSN 0012-821X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2017.10.009pdf link

  8. Caniven, Y., Dominguez, S., Soliva, Roger., Cattin, R., Peyret, M.,Marchandon, M. Romano, C, Strak, V. (2015). A new multilayered visco-elasto-plastic experimental model to study strike-slip fault seismic cycle. Tectonics, 34, 232-264, doi:1002/2014TC003701. pdf link

  9. Ballas, G., Girard, F., Caniven, Y., Soliva, R., Célérier, B., Hemelsdaël, R., Mayolle, S., Gay, A., Séranne, M., (2022). Hybrid compactive faults formed during burial in micritic limestone (Montpellier area, France). Journal of Structural Geology 154, 104502. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2021.104502