Chloé Arson

Chloé Arson

Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hollister Hall 373


Dr. Chloé Arson is a Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Cornell University and an adjunct faculty in the Schools of CEE and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). She earned her Ph.D. at Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (France) in 2009. She was an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University from 2009 to 2012. Then, she worked as an Assistant Professor (2012-2016), Associate Professor (2016-2022) and Professor (2022-2023) in the Georgia Tech School of CEE. Dr. Arson joined the faculty at Cornell University in Summer 2023. 

Research Interests

Dr. Arson’s expertise is damage and healing rock mechanics, micro-macro modeling of porous media, and computational geomechanics. Her group develops numerical tools to assess the performance and environmental impacts of underground storage and rock fracturing, explain the formation of soil by rock weathering, and design sustainable bio-inspired geotechnical systems. Lately, Arson started investigating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize subsurface exploration and enhance multi-scale geomechanical models.

Mechanics of particulate fragmentation

Understanding the mechanisms that trigger fragmentation in granular media and cemented aggregates is of primary importance for optimizing the stability of earth structures, designing ballast and processing food. Arson’s group uses the Discrete Element Method to simulate particulate flow and aggregate particle crushing.

Adaptive homogenization informed by AI

Damage and healing rock mechanics is important to design safe underground storage facilities, assess the impact of hydraulic fracturing, understand fault dynamics, and simulate geomorphological processes. Arson’s group developed original thermodynamic and micromechanical models of crack initiation, opening, closure and rebonding for carbonate rock, granite, and halite, which are common geological host materials. The lab now uses AI to detect the microstructure features that are the most important to capture rock behavior at the macro-scale.

Poromechanical modeling to mitigate climate change

Landscapes encode the history of the climate. For example, saprolite, the intermediate material between rock and soil, plays a critical role in the evolution of topography, nutrient supply, landslide hazards, and the global carbon cycle. The subsurface also bears resources used for the production of energy and construction materials. It is thus important to assess the response of soils, rocks and other geomaterials to a varying climate and to increasing societal demands. Arson’s group implemented a micro-macro model of anisotropic damage upon time-dependent biotite expansion in the Finite Element Method (FEM) to understand the impact of bedrock weathering on mechanical damage in typical landscapes. The lab is also working on the forecast of greenhouse gas emissions from sediments subjected to hydraulic forcings.

Computational fracture mechanics to advance energy geotechnology

Predicting the occurrence of large-scale fractures (0.1m-10m) as the result of the interaction and/or coalescence of microscopic cracks is important to predict many instabilities in geomechanics. To this end, Arson’s group developed computational tools to simulate the propagation of a discrete fracture within a continuum damage process zone, both with Cohesive Zone models and the eXtended Finite Element Method. Simulation results highlighted the influence of intrinsic anisotropy on fluid-driven fracture propagation, which is of significance for deep geothermal energy extraction and cavern stability. The lab also simulated time-dependent damage propagation and healing of salt rock at the vicinity of geological storage facilities.

Smart autonomous subsurface exploration

Dr. Arson is currently leading a research effort that aims to develop a self-propelled Burrowing Robot with an Integrated Sensor System (BRISS). Arson’s group assessed the performance of compound anchors with a novel method that combines the FEM with Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics. Her lab also analyzed the deformation and failure mechanisms induced by the pressurization of a cylindrical body at shallow depth, which bridged an important knowledge gap, since no analytical solution accounts for the geostatic gradient. Because of the lack of closed-form solutions, it is challenging to predict in situ stresses to back-calculate soil properties from data collected by embarked sensors. That is why Arson’s group has trained and tested neural networks that can estimate mechanical properties of a granular soil from the stress field at the soil/robot interface. Arson’s group is also developing bio-inspiration strategies to minimize the energy and power needed to explore underground and construct durable tunnel systems in which to deploy monitoring systems.

Network construction dynamics

Arson’s lab has modeled biological dynamic networks to increase the adaptability of infrastructure. It was found that the cost and performance of a leaf venation network are comparable to those of a spanning tree but an order of magnitude faster, which suggests that rapid leaf inspired solutions could be used to initialize more optimal spanning tree algorithms. Arson’s group studied the mechanisms of plant root growth in natural soil and the response of root architectures to obstacles to seek biomimetic solutions to demands for infrastructure network adaptation. The research team also designed image analysis tools to assess network resilience in slime mold, a protist, amoeba-like organism that grows by foraging. The observation of slime mold network fusion in different environments highlighted morphing strategies that could inspire civil engineers to adapt infrastructure in response to terrorist threats, natural disasters, and pandemics.

Areas of Interest

Teaching Interests

Arson teaches mechanics-focused classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Current and past courses taught include:

  • Modern Structures (freshman level, Cornell University)
  • Mechanics of Materials (junior level, Georgia Tech)
  • Theoretical Geomechanics (graduate level, Georgia Tech)
  • Computational Methods in Mechanics (graduate level, Georgia Tech)
  • Finite Element Method for Coupled Processes in Elastic Porous Media (graduate level, Georgia Tech)

Selected Service Activities

  • Editorial Member of Scientific Reports, since 2023 
  • Associate Editor for Open Geomechanics, since 2022 
  • Associate Editor for the Journal of Engineering Mechanics, since 2019 
  • Associate Editor for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, since 2018 
  • Vice Chair of the Education committee, ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute, since 2022 
  • Chair of the Poromechanics Committee, ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute, 2019-2021 
  • Vice Chair of the Poromechanics committee, ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute, 2018-2019 
  • Founder and Director of the CEE Gateways to France program, Georgia Tech, 2013–2023
    Program that builds long-term collaborations between Georgia Tech (GT) professors and faculty from top engineering schools of the Paris area through regular GT student internships in France and mutual visits. Funding from the National Science Foundation (Grant no. 1357908, 2014-2019; Grant no. 1854030, 2019-present). 28 internships funded since 2013.

Selected Publications

  • T. Xu, C. Arson, 2023. Interface homogenization approach for mechanical healing driven by pressure solution, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, DOI: 10.1061/JENMDT/EMENG-7079
  • H. He, A. Karsai, B. Liu, F.L. Hammond III, D.I. Goldman, C. Arson, 2023. Simulation of compound anchor intrusion in dry sand by a hybrid FEM+SPH method, Computers and Geotechnics, DOI: 10.1016/j.compgeo.2022.105137
  • L.F. Patino-Ramirez, Z.J. Wang, D.H. Chau, C. Arson, 2022. Back-calculation of soil parameters from displacement-controlled cavity expansion under geostatic stress by FEM and machine learning, Acta Geotechnica, DOI: 10.1007/s11440-022-01698-z
  • T. Xu, X. Shen, M. Reed, N. West, K. Ferrier, C. Arson, 2022. Anisotropy and microcrack propagation induced by weathering, regional stresses and topographic stresses, Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth, DOI:10.1029/2022JB024518
  • T. Xu, C. Arson, 2022. Self-consistent approach for modeling coupled elastic and viscoplastic processes induced by dislocation and pressure solution, International Journal of Solids and Structures, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2021.111376
  • F. Anselmucci, E. Andò, G. Viggiani, N. Lenoir, C. Arson, L. Sibille, 2021. Imaging local soil kinematics during the first days of maize root growth in sand, Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-01056-1
  • F. Patino-Ramirez, C. Arson, A. Dussutour, 2021. Substrate and cell fusion influence on slime mold network dynamics, Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-80320-2
  • F. Patino-Ramirez, C. Arson, 2020. Transportation networks inspired by leaf venation algorithms, Journal of Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, DOI: 10.1088/1748-3190/ab7571
  • C. Arson, 2020. Micro-macro mechanics of damage and healing in rocks, Open Geomechanics, DOI: 10.5802/ogeo.4
  • W. Jin, C. Arson, 2020. Fluid driven transition from damage to fracture in anisotropic porous media - a multiscale XFEM approach, Acta Geotechnica, DOI: 10.1007/s11440-019-00813-x
  • W. Jin, C. Arson, 2019. XFEM to couple nonlocal micromechanics damage with discrete mode I cohesive fracture, Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, DOI: 10.1016/j.cma.2019.112617
  • P. Wang, Z. Karatza, C. Arson, 2019. DEM Modelling of sequential fragmentation of zeolite granules under oedometric compression based on XCT observations, Powder Technology, DOI: 10.1016/j.powtec.2019.02.050
  • W. Jin, C. Arson, 2018. Anisotropic nonlocal damage model for materials with intrinsic transverse isotropy, International Journal of Solids and Structures, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2018.01.020
  • W. Jin, C. Arson, 2018. Micromechanics based discrete damage model with multiple non-smooth yield surfaces: theoretical formulation, numerical implementation and engineering applications, International Journal of Damage Mechanics, DOI: 10.1177/1056789517695872
  • W. Jin, C. Arson, 2017. Discrete Wing Crack based Damage Model for Brittle Solids, International Journal of Solids and Structures, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2016.12.025
  • P. Wang, C. Arson, 2016. Discrete Element Modeling of shielding and size effects during single particle crushing, Computers and Geotechnics, DOI: 10.1016/j.compgeo.2016.04.003
  • A. Pouya, C. Zhu, C. Arson, 2016. Micro-Macro Approach of Salt Viscous Fatigue under Cyclic Loading, Mechanics of Materials, DOI: 10.1016/j.mechmat.2015.10.009
  • C. Zhu, C. Arson, 2014. A Thermo-Mechanical Damage Model for Rock Stiffness during Anisotropic Crack Opening and Closure, Acta Geotechnica, DOI: 10.1007/s11440-013-0281-0
  • J.-M. Pereira, C. Arson, 2013. Retention and Permeability Properties of Damaged Porous Rocks, Computers and Geotechnics, DOI: 10.1016/j.compgeo.2012.08.003
  • C. Arson, J.-M. Pereira, 2013. Influence of Damage on Pore Size Distribution and Permeability of Rocks, International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, DOI: 10.1002/nag.1123
  • C. Arson, B. Gatmiri, 2012. Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical Modeling of Damage in Unsaturated Porous Media: Theoretical Framework and Numerical Study of the EDZ, International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, DOI: 10.1002/nag.1005
  • C. Arson, B. Gatmiri, 2009. A mixed damage model for unsaturated porous media, Comptes-Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences de Paris, section Mécanique, DOI: 10.1016/j.crme.2009.03.005
  • C. Arson, B. Gatmiri, 2008. On damage modelling in unsaturated clay rocks, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, DOI: 10.1016/j.pce.2008.10.006

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Appreciation Award for outstanding service and dedication as co-chair of the EMI Conference 2023 at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, June 6-9, 2023, Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers, 2023
  • Susan G. and Christopher D. Pappas Professorship, Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2023
  • Selected for the Office of the Provost’s Emerging Leaders Program, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2021-2022
  • BRITE Award, National Science Foundation, 2021
  • Inter-disciplinary Research Award, Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2017
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2016
  • Selected for the Future Leaders Program, American Rock Mechanics Association, 2013-2016
  • ExCEEd Teaching Fellowship, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2012


  • Ph.D. in geomechanics, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (France), 2009
  • M.Sc. in soil and rock mechanics, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (France), 2006
  • M.Eng. in civil engineering, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (France), 2006
  • D.E.U.G. in philosophy (two-year degree), University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne (France), 2003