Navigate Up
Sign In
  • CRM
  • CRM
  • CRM
CRM > English > Activities > Curs 2019-2020 > Micromechanics, statistics, and hazards of mechanical failure
Micromechanics, statistics, and hazards of mechanical failure

After the decision of the government of suspending all academic activities and restricting civilians mobility due to the COVID-19 health and safety alert, we have made the difficult decision to postpone​ the Micromechanics, statistics, and hazards of mechanical failure conference. Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event as planned, but we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today. 

We thank all the coordinators, invited speakers, participants and invited researchers for your support and understanding.​
General Information 

From May 11th to 13th, 2020.


The interdisciplinary and intersectoral workshop “Micromechanics, statistics, and hazards of mechanical failure” intends to establish a common understanding of the theoretical foundations and characterization of avalanche phenomena and failure, and to stimulate new interdisciplinary collaborations between professionals and scholars in different areas and contexts. We invite contributions on the study of: transformation events in crystalline and amorphous solids; fracture in heterogeneous materials and rocks; structural failure of engineered constructions; rock-falls, landslides and snow avalanches: natural and anthropogenic seismicity, etc. The workshop is structured in three themes addressed in oral sessions and discussion tables: (I) phenomena, experiments and characterization (II) physical modelling and micromechanics, (III) hazard assessment and industrial applications. This workshop is sponsored by the AXA Research Fund, through the project RehMechFail.

Section 1: Common aspects and particular features of natural avalanche processes:

Different phenomena in field and lab experiments can be related to avalanche phenomena in mechanical systems and/or mechanical failure of solids: fracture mechanics; acoustic emission; fatigue; creep; corrosion; jamming; interface deppining; frictional sliding; tectonic seismicity; fluid-induced and triggered microseismicity; landslides, rock-falls, and snow avalanches; structural and magnetostructural phase transitions; and a long list of other non-linear mechanical processes. This section calls for new developments and reviews of the general state of the art in the theoretical and experimental study of the different natural or man-made avalanche phenomena. A special attention will be given to the features of each particular experimental approach, and the prospective societal impact derived from the understanding and characterization of the phenomena. The goal is to provide an interdisciplinary and comprehensible overview of principles, field studies, experimental procedures, and their motivation. What phenomena mimics each experimental procedure? Are we extending the validity of some fundamental principles? Or reducing the phenomena to the minimal expression?

Section 2: Data processing, statistical analysis and empirical laws and models.

Data recording and data processing techniques in non-linear mechanical processes differ depending on the underlying processes and field of study. Analytical toolsets are often designed to deal with the limitations imposed by the data acquisition. In a best case scenario, we know, record, or infer the microscopic internal fields and/or the microstructural-rearrangements. Otherwise, full or partial time series from one or multiple devices can detect remotely acoustic, seismic, magnetic, optical or calorimetric signals in a narrow or broad-band spectrum. Individual events, or avalanches, are usually represented in stochastic models with explicit parameter dependencies. These usually include empirical observations, such as scale-free relations, distributions, and accelerations, temporal, and spatial correlations, etc.. This section calls for reviews and latest breakthroughs regarding empirical laws and the techniques used to characterize them: signal processing; match-filtering techniques; avalanche propagation profiles; internal measurements and remote inference of stress and displacement fields; magnitude distributions and magnitude relations; estimation of critical exponents; finite size scaling; outlier detection; determination of other precursors to failure; identification of event-event correlations, spatial and temporal clustering, etc.. We will discuss the possibility to extend analytical procedures to a generalized toolset to study numerical and experimental datasets.

Section 3: Micromechanical modeling from molecular dynamics to mean field.

Different areas rely on different physical approaches to study the micromechanical stability of materials and the nucleation and propagation of avalanche processes. These includes coarse-grained elastoplastic or phase-field models in finite element (FEM) or lattice representations; discrete element (DEM) simulation of molecular dynamics representing amorphous or granular materials; fracture and interface propagation; simple conceptual representations of natural processes; and solutions in the mean-field approximation. Some numerical and analytical results reveal a certain degree of universality across models and phenomena. Other features appear to be sensible to the model approach, or its parameters. Of particular interest are the limitations of each modeling approach, such as the role of topological constraints in crystalline and granular matter, the dimensional embedding of the model and the range of interactions. This section calls for recent results and reviews on the state of the art in the micromechanical modelling of avalanche dynamics across areas, with an emphasis on universal features and the particular advantages, limitations and forecasting capabilities of each approach. 

Section 4: Physical origin of precursors, correlations and heterogeneity

Some statistical features of avalanche dynamics preceding extreme events can be related to the onset of a phase transition. Other features are more difficult to reproduce at the conceptual level. This is the case of temporal correlations in the form of aftershock sequences as observed in earthquakes, interface deppining, acoustic emission experiments and structural phase transitions. Different micromechanical models reproduce such features by the introduction of physically-based mechanisms: rheology of structural materials and internal fluids; rate-and-state friction; dynamic stress transfer, inertia, etc.. Recent studies also revealed non-trivial effects caused by small and large-scale heterogeneities in numerical simulations and experiments. This section is a follow-up of section 3 focussed on the experimental observation and modelling of second order features such as precursors, sporadic or driven regime transitions, and the effects of temporal scales, and heterogeneity. 

Section 5: Model-based hazard assessment and forecasting.

The insights from empirical statistical models (Section 2) and micromechanical models (Section 3 and 4) can be used to provide a comprehensive measurement of long and short-term hazards and a reliable forecasting of extreme events in mechanical processes. This section invites the presentation of data-based and/or model-inspired hazard models for seismic and microseismic events; non-intrusive techniques for structural health monitoring based on micromechanics or spontaneous acoustic emission; Bayesian inference of parameters in the point process representation of avalanche processes; proportional hazard models; hidden Markov and semi-Markov models; epidemic and branching aftershock models; real time parameter estimation; and any kind of data-based techniques, including machine learning, applied to failure forecasting, hazard assessment and damage diagnosis.

Section 6: Industrial and societal impact of avalanche modelling and mechanical failure.

Models and new techniques for hazard assessment have a straightforward societal impact in the territorial planning, the development of safety and emergency protocols, and early warning systems. This practical application of fundamental research calls for the establishment of natural partnerships between public and private agents dealing with risk management and purely academic research teams. However, fundamental research is often motivated by mere academic reasons, in the pursuit for knowledge itself. We invite public and private agents dealing with extreme-event forecasting and hazard assessment of phenomena related to mechanical failure and other avalanche processes to participate in this section. We also invite participants from academia to share their experience in knowledge and technology transfer and intersectorial projects with industry partners, agencies, and other public or private enterprises dealing with seismic hazard, early warning systems, protocols applied to the topics of natural hazards such as earthquakes, rock-falls, landslides, snow avalanches, volcanic activity, anthropogenic fluid-induced seismicity, non-intrusive structural health monitoring in industry, critical infrastructures and building protocols, collapse prevention and monitoring of mine shafts, storage facilities, stockpiles and silos, urban resilience accounting for seismic microzonation, soil liquefaction, etc.. We also invite contributions regarding experiences in the use of third-party computational and big-data resources. We are particularly interested in the following questions: Which are the main problems faced by public agents that remain unresolved with state-of-art technologies and procedures? How can new developments and breakthroughs in statistical and micromechanical modelling improve hazard forecasting in real settings? What information from field and experimental studies can improve current hazard protocols? Are scientists asking the right questions to address such practical problems? What opportunities exist to tighten the collaboration between public and private agents and academia? How can these be improved?

Goals & Format 


This interdisciplinary workshop intends to identify common strategies, translate terminology and erode conceptual barriers between different academic and professional environments dealing with extreme events emerging from mechanical avalanche processes. We seek to establish a common understanding of the theoretical foundations and characterization of avalanche phenomena and failure, and to stimulate new interdisciplinary collaborations. 

We invite experts dealing with data processing, statistical and micromechanical modeling and hazard assessment related to avalanche phenomena in mechanical systems in the areas of soft-matter physics, statistical seismology, material, mechanical, and civil engineering, among others. Specifically, we are interested in experiments on mechanical stability and dynamics of granular, crystalline or amorphous matter; experiments on material failure, rock fracture or recording of acoustic emission; discrete element (DEM) simulation of amorphous, glassy or granular matter; theory, and micromechanical modelling of soft-matter, including mean-field solutions; geomechanical models of fracture and faulting; field studies on seismic and microseismic data; hazard assessment and failure forecasting in any of the aforementioned areas. 

We look for universal and particular aspects of each phenomena under study, the limitations and advantages of different experimental procedures and physical modelling approaches. 

We are also interested in the translation of definitions and statistical techniques and models to be used across areas, as well as unified hazard models and comprehensive hazard measures. The goal is to achieve a common toolset able to provide unambiguous results and interpretations.

Finally, this workshop attempts to activate new communication channels with specialists from the public or private sector working on hazard assessment and risk management. We welcome contributions about past experiences and potential new collaborations between academic and non-academic institutions arising from the new breakthroughs of the topic.


The workshop is planned to be split in 3 themes and 6 focus sub-thematic sections, each one discussing different stages of research from empirical observations to practical application of scientific results. 

The themes are: (I) phenomena and experiments (II) physical modelling and micromechanics, (III) hazard assessment and applications. The focus sections are described below. At the end of each day, a discussion table will take place, open to all participants, versing on each of the themes and the contributions in each session.

Given the thematic organization, and knowing the mixed research interests of most of participants, we encourage you to submit an optional secondary abstract for an oral or poster contribution in another area, or to organize and split your contribution in two talks to better fit the thematic structure. We plan to allocate time-slots of 20 or 25 min for each oral contribution (accounting for 5 minutes for questions). Depending on the final availability, some talks can be extended to fit up to two time-slots under request, instead of the optional secondary contribution. We’ll try to adapt the final schedule as much as we can to accommodate the overall interests of the participants. 

Since the sections are not specific to research areas, we expect a proactive participation in all oral sessions and discussion tables. Hence, we ask the speakers to appeal the interest of an educated interdisciplinary audience. Don’t be afraid to share your most stunning results, but remember that the goal is to build bridges between areas, and the basic concepts should be clear for a broad audience. 

We don’t foresee a poster session in a standard way. However, we can make use of up to 16 panels at our disposal, and we will have plenty of time between sessions for discussion. Due to physical restrictions, the posters should not exceed size A1 in portrait format.

Organizing Committee
​Isabel Serra Mochales
​Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM)
​Jordi Baró Urbea
​Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM)
​​Scientific Committee
​Álvaro González Gómez
Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM)
​Isabel Serra Mochales
​Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM)
​Jordi Baró Urbea
Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM)​
List of participants
​Jonathan Bares ​U. Montpellier - CNRS
​Kirsty Bayliss ​U. of Edinburgh
​Silvia Bonfanti ​La Statale, Milano
​Mauro Cacace ​GFZ, Potsdam
​Alexis Cartwright-Taylor ​U. of Edinburgh
​Álvaro Corral ​CRM, Barcelona
​Cristian De Santos ​SAALG, Barcelona
​Lucas Goehring ​Nottingham Trent U.
​Antón Gomà ​ctrl4enviro, Barcelona
​Adriano Gualandi ​JPL NASA, Pasadena
​Kamran Karimi ​U. of Calgary
​Omid Khajehdehi ​U. of Calgary​​
​Grzegorz Kwiatek ​GFZ, Potsdam
​Eulàlia Masana ​U. de Barcelona
​Marisol Monterubio ​BSC, Barcelona
​Victor Navas ​CRM - U. de Barcelona
​Ramon Planet ​U. de Barcelona
​Mehdi Porhauga ​Carleton U., Ottawa
​Osvanny Ramos ​U. Lyon1
​Robert Shcherbakov ​U. of Western Ontario, London
​Damien Vanderbroucq  ​PMMH, CNRS ESPCI, Paris
​Eduard Vives ​U. de Barcelona
​Steve WaiChing Sun ​Columbia U. New York
​Ilia Zaliapin ​U. of Nevada, Reno
​Isabel Serra ​CRM, Barcelona
​Jordi Baró ​CRM, Barcelona

To be posted
Refund policy:
Cancellations received 1 month before the start of the activity will incur in an administrative fee of 50% of the total amount.
Cancellations received less than one month prior to the start of the activity are not refundable.
You will be able to pay by card or bank transfer through the on-line registration system. If you need an invoice, please send an email to after you have completed the registration process until the "save data" button.
Lodging information
For lodging in the area please click here​
For off-campus and family accommodation click here​​​
Further information
For inquiries about the conference please contact the activity's coordinator Ms. Núria Hernandez at​