Dr. Hiroko Kitajima

Aug 22, 2017

Dr. Hiroko Kitajima joined Texas A&M’s faculty in 2014 as an assistant professor working with the Center for Tectonophysics.

Dr. Hiroko Kitajima was born in Fukuoka, Japan, and completed her undergraduate degree in Japan at Kyoto University. Her undergraduate advisor, Dr. Toshihiko Shimamoto, was an A&M alumnus and suggested Kitajima attend Texas A&M to pursue her graduate degree. Kitajima attended Texas A&M for her Ph.D. and worked with Dr. Frederick Chester and Dr. Judith Chester in the Center for Tectonophysics. Upon completing her Ph.D., Kitajima attended Penn State as a Post-Doctoral researcher and then worked for two years at the Geological Survey of Japan. In 2014, Kitajima joined Texas A&M’s faculty as an assistant professor.

Dr. Kitajima’s research interests include experimental rock deformation with emphasis on the physics of earthquakes, specifically in subduction zones. Her research focuses on experimental rock and soil mechanics to characterize the hydromechanical properties of rocks and sediments deformed at different pressure, temperature, and strain rate conditions. With the aim of better understanding a wide range of geological problems, Dr. Kitajima combines lab experimental work with numerical modeling, geophysical data, and field work including ocean/continental drilling projects. Her current research focuses on understanding the interaction between sediment/rock deformation and fluid flow under complicated loading conditions associated with earthquakes in subduction zones, and the micromechanics of compaction and shear deformation and on granular materials at high strain rates and high pressures.

Kitajima has had previous funding through one NSF grant (NSF-MARGINS Postdoctoral Fellowship) and two Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) grants. Kitajima’s current funding comes from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant which she will use to hire a post-doc (Tamara Jeppson, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison), starting this October. Dr. Kitajima’s research was published in various geophysical and geological journals. Kitajima currently has one doctoral student and one M.Sc. student working with her.Two undergraduate students working with her graduated this past May. Kitajima and her Ph.D. both attended the last AGU Conference in San Francisco, and at the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) meeting last year. Kitajima’s Ph.D. student also attended the workshop on Feedbacks Among Climate, Erosion and Tectonics (FACET). Both her Ph.D. and undergraduate students presented at the Department’s Research Symposium hosted by the Geology and Geophysics Graduate Student Council (GGGSC).

Dr. Kitajima’s future projects include sailing for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) expedition 375 with a team of scientists to study the Hikurangi subduction zone off New Zealand from March to May 2018. The best documented shallow slow-slip events occur about every two years at the northern Hikurangi subduction margin in New Zealand. IODP expedition 375 will investigate the processes and in situ conditions that underlie the subduction zone slow-slip events. This will be done by coring various sections of the continental plate and plate margin, as the tectonics of this area of New Zealand are not known well. Present-day New Zealand broke away from Australia and Antarctica about 80 million years ago, and since then the underwater continent half the size of Australia, known as Zealandia or the world’s ‘lost’ 8th continent, has more than 90 percent of the continental crust underwater unlike other continents. Slow-slip events involve transient aseismic slip on a fault at a rate intermediate between plate boundary displacement rates and rates required to generate seismic waves, where a cycle can last anywhere from weeks to months. Expedition 375 will provide slow slip cycle information on changes in deformation rate and associated physical and chemical properties surrounding the slow-slip event source area, and borehole observatories will be installed to monitor other processes during a slow-slip event cycle.

In her spare time, Dr. Hiroko Kitajima enjoys swimming, cooking and traveling.

Reference: https://iodp.tamu.edu/scienceops/expeditions/hikurangi_subduction_margin.html