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Teng-fong Wong

Teng-fong Wong
Teng-fong Wong

The 2010 Louis Néel Medal is awarded to Teng-fong Wong for his outstanding contributions in rock mechanics.

Teng-fong Wong is an internationally leading expert in the field of rock mechanics. He has spent most of his career at the Department of Geosciences at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he became a Professor of Geophysics in 1982. Teng-fong started his career as a geoscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late seventies after finishing his Ph.D. with Bill Brace investigating brittle failure of rocks. Before that, however, he studied Mathematics at Brown and finished a Master’s degree in Applied Mechanics at Harvard University in 1976. Since then, Teng-fong Wong has covered a broad range of research topics in geophysics including experimental and theoretical studies in the fields of rock fracture mechanics, transport and storage of fluids in rocks, petrophysics and earthquake mechanics.

At MIT, Teng-fong Wong joined the group of Bill Brace for his Ph.D. during an exciting period when the understanding of frictional and fracture processes in rocks progressed in leaps and cornerstones were laid defining future research in brittle rock mechanics. In this environment, Wong contributed seminal studies pertinent to the dynamics and micro-mechanics of faulting, and shear localization. Most importantly, he rapidly linked processes governing brittle deformation to earthquake source mechanics. Many of these studies are still relevant today.

In the early 90’s a detailed reassessment of mechanisms characteristic of the brittle-to-ductile transition in rocks was pushed forward by Wong with his former student Joanne Fredrich and former colleague Brian Evans, both at MIT. The resulting monograph, published in 1990, in many respects represents a landmark for research on this subject.

After setting up his own new experimental laboratory at Stony Brook, Wong continued to investigate deformation of rocks in the brittle field using a combination of experimental tests, micro-structural studies and theoretical modelling. The focus of his work changed as problems related to mechanical behaviour and transport properties of porous rocks came to the fore. Fundamental studies of the compaction behaviour of porous rocks, the analysis of the relevant and dominant micro-mechanisms and the formulation of a theoretical framework describing these processes now constitute an outstanding contribution to our understanding of rock physics and reservoir geomechanics. For example, Wong realized very rapidly the importance of recent field observations of exposed examples of compaction bands for fluid flow in reservoirs and subsequently launched a comprehensive series of experimental studies aimed at understanding these structures in various porous materials. Several seminal papers and reviews of this topic by Wong have since emerged defining the frontier of research in this area.

He has authored almost 100 publications in rock mechanics. Most recently, he co-authored with Mervyn Paterson a new edition of the standard text book presenting the current knowledge of brittle properties of rocks. This well-received textbook on rock deformation also stands out as a clear and comprehensive introduction to this field. Most of Wong’s publications result from projects pursued together with a constant flow of excellent graduate and post-doctoral students, who have since started their own research groups, for example, Joanne Fredrich, Patrick Baud, Wenlu Zhu and Christian David, as well as others. He has provided numerous services to the community as a reviewer and editor for various journals and as a member of several review panels and advisory boards. In particular, he strongly fostered scientific exchange in the field of rock mechanics and rock physics between Europe and the United States. Over the years, many students in Wong’s group originated from all over Europe and he has established close collaborative ties with groups in Europe.