Dr. Sean O'Hara
Dr. Sean O’Hara received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago where he studied geology, geophysics, and earth science. He is especially interested in the icy planetary bodies of the outer solar system. Condensed volatile ices play a major role in the structural and thermal evolution of these distant bodies, creating unique and dynamic surface features due to their weak rheology and insulating properties. To investigate the formation of these features, Dr. O’Hara employed numerical geodynamic modeling to examine the thermal profile, stress state, and advection of material both deep within and at the surface of Triton and Pluto.
Dr. O’Hara is currently studying the effects of magma chamber geometry and deformation on magma propagation beneath large volcanos on Venus. Expression of magma from its source is controlled by failure of the magma chamber wall, which is itself affected by the stresses of volcanic loading, lithospheric flexure, and magma overpressure. Previous work has focused on spherical magma chambers and elastic deformation; however, viscoelastic and even plastic responses may be important at the high pressures and temperatures beneath these large volcanos. Dr. O’Hara uses finite element numerical simulations to model magma chambers with high aspect ratios and viscoelastic wall rheology, with the goal of exploring how these conditions have affected volcanic evolution on Venus.