Earth and other planetary landscapes are shaped by soft matter: slowly creeping materials often composed of grains embedded in a fluid. Yet the lack of communication between geoscientists and soft matter experimentalists can be striking; completely different terminology is often used to describe the same physical phenomena.
Justin Burton’s research will help bridge this gap, to open new avenues for soft matter experiments guided by Earth's ever-evolving landscape. His group’s high-precision experiments aim to capture fundamental features of geophysical soft matter in the laboratory. They investigate the slow creep of materials such as glacial ice, the failure of granular materials and debris flows, and the interactions of levitated dust particles in the atmosphere. A unique feature of this work is direct comparisons with field data obtained from satellite or ground-based methods.
Dr. Burton’s research at the interface of geoscience and soft matter could have an outsized impact on both fields and introduce new applications of soft matter research for adapting to a changing climate
Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative
Emory University, Department of Physics