Dr. Medina-Cetina Presents at European Geosciences Union (EGU) GIFT Workshop


By: Anna Heller

Associate Professor Dr. Zenon Medina-Cetina Presents at the 24th EGU-GIFT Workshop in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
Merida, Yucatan, Mx- The European Geosciences Union (EGU) held their 24th Geosciences Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshop in Merida, Yucatan on October 5-8th. This year’s theme of the workshop was “Natural Hazards, Disaster Risks and Societal Implications.”
Associate Professor at the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University and President of the Society for Underwater Technology, Dr. Zenon Medina-Cetina, made a presentation titled, ‘Stochastic Geomechanics for Risk Assessment.’ He was joined by more that 17 other professionals, at the two-and-a-half day workshop, presenting to more than 50 teachers of grades k-12, who were awarded with scholarships to participate in the workshop. 
The goal of the GIFT Workshop is to provide a mutual opportunity for the researchers and teachers to enhance their knowledge of earth sciences and the educational trends and practices that go along with the study of earth science. The GIFT workshop has proven to shorten the time for teachers to be educated on earth processes emerging as new scientific discoveries. 
Dr. Medina-Cetina’s presentation introduced the use of computational particle mechanics to simulate the earth impact of the asteroid that created the Chicxulub Crater, located in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. This presentation was co-authored by Tam Duong, doctoral student at Texas A&M University and a member of the Stochastic Geomechanics Laboratory (SGL), led by Dr. Medina-Cetina.  
The research for this presentation utilized computational particle mechanics, which is an emerging field of study that allows discretizing mass media into particles (from atoms to full geologic formations) where the mechanical interaction between particles is subjected to simple Newtonian Physics.

An image depicting the Chicxulub Crater near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

An image depicting the Chicxulub Crater near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  Source: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/scientists-gear-drill-ground-zero-impact-killed-dinosaurs

Simply put, when extrapolated, millions of particles interacting between each other require the optimal use of computational resources to be able to represent fracture of geologic formations. Specifically those subjected to high energy dissipation problems such as the asteroid impact at Chicxulub.
The overarching objective is to define likely energy dissipation scenarios that contributed to what is hypothesized as one of the most relevant mass extinctions of life on earth about 65 million years ago. International Oceanographic Drilling Program’s (IODP) observations show a 14 km-diameter crater that hit the Yucatan Peninsula, which produced the extinction of three fourths of the planet´s biodiversity. This phenomenon has been studied for decades, by scientists from all around the world, to understand the processes that occurred after the impact and how it is related to the current geological events on earth and it’s relation to climate change.
Dr. Medina-Cetina’s presentation was based on collaboration between his research group SGL at Texas A&M University (TAMU) and Dr. Urrutia’s at UNAM. Aimed at simulating realistic scenarios that would reproduce current geological conditions at the Chicxulub crater based on a probabilistic experimental design, involving millions of likely impact simulations, which would result in the current geological formation at the Chicxulub crater.
If you want to learn more about the Stochastic Geomechanics Laboratory visit SGL’s website at:
And if interested in looking at the SGL’s impact simulations of the asteroid impact at different angles (simple crater simulations), visit SGL’s Youtube Channel at:

SUT Houston on Facebook SUT Houston on Twitter SUT Houston on Linkedin