Steven D. Glaser

Professor Emeritus

Glaser headshot

Steven D. Glaser is a professor in the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, distinguished affiliate professor at the Technical University of Munich, and a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Glaser’s engineering training was at The University of Texas at Austin.  He also has a B.A. in philosophy from Clark University, 1975.  He completed the apprentice program of Local 77 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, following which Glaser worked eight years as a driller, including one year in Iraq.

Glaser was awarded the Basic Research Award, 1993, by the US National Committee for Rock Mechanics, and a Fulbright Fellowship in 2003.

Glaser has worked on many aspects of rock mechanics and rock physics, most often by applying principles from geophysics.  He has pioneered nano-seismology, a quantitative alternative to acoustic emission, throughout his career.  His work in this field has been published in Nature, Journal of Geophysical Research and other significant journals.  His rock mechanics work has encompassed the nature of friction, fracture propagation, and practical aspects of geothermal energy mining.  In addition, Glaser currently operates the largest ecological wireless network in the world, monitoring forest hydrology of snow melt and water balance in the Sierra Nevada.  


Ph.D. - Geotechnical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 1990

M.S. - Geotechnical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 1986

B.S.C.E. - University of Texas at Austin, 1984

Journeyman - Int. Union Operating Engineers, L. 77, 1977

​​B.A. - Philosophy, Clark University, 1975


Laboratory Earthquakes

Through carefully controlled experiments, fundamental mechanisms of fault rupture initiation are being studied with a level of detail unimaginable in the field.  This is made possible by sensors designed in the Glaser lab.  These devices allow accurate measurement of displacements as small as 1 pm, over a wide frequency band; no other displacement sensor can match this performance.  Current work includes scaling effects of near-fault measurement on perceived source kinematics, localized precursors to rupture, and nano-friction.

Internet of Water

It is estimated that seasonal snow cover is responsible for 80% or more of annual water supplies in California. Stewardship of the state’s valuable water supply requires understanding of the mountain hydrology system from the first snowfall to the water in your tap. We are operating a 60-node wireless sensor network, including more than 280 sensors, near Shaver Lake, CA (believed to be the largestWSN for eco-monitoring in the world), allowing investigation of the effects of local-scale phenomena on large-scale mountain hydrology, something which is unfeasible without the WSN.

Clean Energy From Hot Dry Rock

One solution to mining the earth’s geothermal energy is to engineer our own production fields. Such enhanced geothermal systems entail drilling at least two wells, one to pump down cold water, and others to pump up superheated water. We are starting an experimental journey see if using supercritical CO2 as the circulating fluid instead of water will increase efficiencies by up to a factor of 3. Our custom equipment permits a fluid operating point of 200°C at 400 bar, flowing at 400 ml/min


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