James R. Rice is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics at Harvard University, in its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. From 1965 to 1981, Rice was a professor at the Division of Engineering, Brown University. He holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in mechanics from Lehigh University. Rice studies phenomena relating to stressing, deformation, flow and fracture. That has been directed in recent years to geophysics (seismology, glaciology, tectonophysics), and to civil and environmental engineering hydrology and geomechanics. His seismic studies focus on the nucleation of earthquake rupture, thermo- and hydro-mechanical weakening of fault zones during seismic slip, fracture propagation through branched and offset fault systems, tsunami generation and propagation, and relations among stressing, seismicity, and deformation in or near continental and subduction fault systems, including the physics of aseismic deformation transients. His research related to hydrologic processes, including poroelastic-plastic effects and other fluid interactions in the deformation and failure of earth materials, has application to glacial flows, including rapid and episodic ice motions, glacial earthquakes, and massive ice-sheet under-flooding events as natural hydraulic fractures, and also to submarine and subaerial landslide processes.

Research Interests

Theoretical mechanics in the geological sciences, geotechnology and materials physics, including earthquake source processes, fault and crack dynamics, lithospheric stressing and seismicity, hydrologic processes, and pore fluid interaction with earth materials. Rice addresses problems of stressing, deformation, fracture and flow as they arise in in seismology and tectonophysics and in civil/environmental and mechanical engineering and materials physics. His earthquake studies are on the mechanics and physics of fault zone processes, including the nucleation of seismic rupture, dynamic slip propagation, rupture through branched fault systems, factors controlling earthquake populations along faults, and relations among stressing, seismicity and deformation in or near continental and subduction fault systems. In studies of hydrologic processes, he addresses poroelastic effects and other pore fluid interactions in the deformation and failure of earth materials, with applications in seismology and environmental geomechanics. Previously his work has addressed the theory of crack propagation, especially in elastic-plastic metals, path-independent integrals in elasticity, the structure of inelastic constitutive relations, microscopic mechanisms of cleavage and ductile or creep rupture, the thermodynamics of interfacial embrittlement, wave effects in tensile crack dynamics, sliding friction and its instabilities, deformation localization into shear zones, and landslides in overconsolidated soil slopes. He has also contributed to techniques of computational mechanics, including finite-element and spectral elastodynamic methods.

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Primary Section

Section 16: Geophysics

Secondary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences