Elvira Mulyukova, Ph.D.
Mailing address: PO Box 208109, New Haven CT 06520-8109
Street address: 210 Whitney Ave., New Haven CT 06511
My research is aimed at understanding the physical processes that govern evolution of terrestrial planets, ranging from the atomic scale physics of mineral grains to the planetary scale of mantle flow. Specifically, I use mathematical methods to develop physically consistent models of rock mechanics, and incorporate them into larger scale geodynamic models of mantle convection, plate tectonics, earthquake cycles, and many other geological processes that shape the history and the future of rocky planets. Up to now, our home planet Earth has been the focus of my work, since it is the most accessible in terms of observational data, as well as the most relevant for human life. However, my larger goal is to develop physical models that are not limited to Earth, but can be applied to other terrestrial planets in our Solar system and beyond.
One of my main goals is to understand the microphysics of strain localization and weakening that lead to the formation and the subsequent evolution of tectonic plate boundaries – a unique and enigmatic feature of Earth’s surface dynamics. By constantly bringing new mantle material to the surface, plate tectonics affects the chemistry of the ocean and atmosphere, and thus also the long-term climate stability and the biological evolution. Understanding plate tectonics is thus a fundamental step towards understanding the Earth system as a whole.