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Physics of natural sites

Physics of natural sites

Natural sites around us, to whom we are extremely attached, sometimes through affective ties, also offer numerous scientific questions. What is happening in front of us? What is going to happen after a perturbation? These questions we are asking outselves, but also the persons around us ask, society asks, companies ask, are not trifle questions. While generally these questions are considered applied problems, related for example to economical resources or polluted sites, the underlying problems and the understanding of the processes taking place are fundamental and delicate questions, and, to be able to provide tentative answers, it is necessary to mobilize the latest concepts and the most refined technologies.

The group “Physics of Natural Sites“, established in September 2014 by Frédéric Perrier and lead by Frédéric Girault since 2919, is endowed with the mission, in the context of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, of putting into practice in natural sites the techniques of applied geosciences and the tools developed by the fundamental researches of the institute. Thus, this team proposes natural sites as the living supports contributing to the general intellectual scientific creativity of the institute, and as living supports for higher courses combining fundamental and applied skills. Conversely, natural sites provide examples of processes and situations which are real intellectual and technical challenges leading to the development of new knowledge.

Our group relies on intensive experimental practice, both in the laboratory and in the field to nurture modelling tools and a theoretical physical approach adapted, in the case of natural sites, from out of equilibrium thermodynamics. Rather than proposing an independent subject, the team relies on the competence and knowledge of the other teams of the institute working in natural sites, and to create a common working context together with teams from fundamental physics.

The research of the team is organized around a main topic: hydrothermal systems in the context of active tectonics, and five satellite research actions.

Contact: Frédéric GIRAULT () (Website:

News of PSN team

Recent publications:

Thapa, S.*, Girault, F., Deldicque, D., Losno, R., France-Lanord, C., Groppo, C., Rolfo, F., Tamang, S., Rigaudier, T., Debret, B., Paudyal, K.R., Adhikari, L.B., Perrier, F. (2023). Metric, kilometric and large-scale coherence of metamorphic conditions from graphitic phyllite in the Upper Lesser Himalaya of Nepal: Contribution to the estimation of carbon stored during Himalayan orogeny. Chemical Geology, 623, 121378,

Lei, B.*, Zhao, J.J., Girault, F., Cai, Z.*, Luo, C., Thapa, S.*, She, J., Perrier, F. (2023). Overview and large-scale representative estimate of radon-222 flux data in China. Environmental Advances, 11, 100312,

Perrier, F., Bourges, F., Girault, F., Le Mouël, J.-L., Genty, D., Lartiges, B., Losno, R., Bonnet, S. (2023). Temperature variations in caves induced by atmospheric pressure variations, 2: Unveiling hidden thermal signals. Geosystems and Geoenvironment, 2, 100146,

Perrier, F., Bourges, F., Girault, F., Le Mouël, J.-L., Genty, D., Lartiges, B., Losno, R., Bonnet, S. (2023). Temperature variations in caves induced by atmospheric pressure variations, 1: Transfer functions and their interpretation. Geosystems and Geoenvironment, 2, 100145,

Perrier, F., Girault, F. (2022). Scaling and fine structure of superstable periodic orbits in the logistic map. Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, 165, 112767,

Tamang, S.*, Groppo, C., Girault, F., Rolfo, F. (in press). Barrovian metamorphism in the Upper Lesser Himalayan Sequence of Central Nepal seen through the eyes of aluminous metapelites. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 41, 271-297,

Adhikari, L.B., Laporte, M., Bollinger, L., Vergne, J., Lambotte, S., Koirala, B.P., Bhattarai, M., Timsina, C., Gupta, R.M., Wendling-Vazquez, N., Batteux, D., Lyon-Caen, H., Gaudemer, Y., Bernard, P., Perrier, F. (2023) Seismically active structures of the Main Himalayan Thrust revealed before, during and after the 2015 Mw 7.9 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. Geophysical Journal International, 232, 1, 451–471,

Girault, F., Viveiros, F., Silva, C., Thapa, S., Pacheco, J.E., Adhikari, L.B., Bhattarai, M., Koirala, B.P., Agrinier, P., France-Lanord, C., Zanon, V., Vandemeulebrouck, J., Byrdina, S., Perrier, F. (2022). Radon signature of CO2 flux constrains the depth of degassing: Furnas volcano (Azores, Portugal) versus Syabru-Bensi (Nepal Himalayas). Scientific Reports, 12, 10837,

Perrier, F., Girault, F. (2022). Two-point resistances in Archimedean resistor networks. Results in Physics, 36, 105443,

Adhikari, L.B., Bollinger, L., Vergne, J., Lambotte, S., Chanard, K., Laporte, M., Li, L., Koirala, B.P., Bhattarai, M., Timsina, C., Bishwokarma, N., Wendling-Vazquez, N., Girault, F., Perrier, F. (2021). Orogenic collapse and stress adjustments revealed by an intense seismic swarm following the 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. Frontiers in Earth Science, 9, 659937,

Perrier, F., Girault, F. (2021). Symmetries, recurrence, and explicit expressions of two-point resistances in 2×n globe resistor networks. European Journal of Physics, 42, 055201,

Perrier, F., Girault, F. (2021). Recurrence relations in m×3 scaffolding and globe resistor networks. Physica Scripta, 96, 085003,

Perrier, F., Girault, F. (2021). Rotational invariance in resistor networks: Two-point resistances around an n-fold corner. European Journal of Physics, 42, 025803,

Girault, F., Perrier, F., Ourcival, J.-M., Ferry, R.*, Gaudemer, Y., Bourges, F., Didon-Lescot, J.-F. (2021). Substratum influences uptake of radium-226 by plants. Science of the Total Environment, 766, 142655,

Perrier, F., Girault, F. (2020). An example of the relevance of symmetry in physics: Corner theorems in grids and cubic resistor networks. European Journal of Physics, 41, 035805,

Bourges, F., Genty, D., Perrier, F., Lartiges, B., Régnier, E., François, A., Leplat, J., Touron, S., Bousta, F., Massault, M., Delmotte, M., Dumoulin, J.-P., Girault, F., Ramonet, M., Chauveau, C., Rodrigues, P. (2020). Hydrogeological control on carbon dioxide input into the atmosphere of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave. Science of the Total Environment, 716, 136844,

Recent presentations and outreach:

Interview-conversation between B.N. Upreti and F. Girault par UPC:

Microclimatology and preservation in the Gouffre d’Esparros: (after 20 min)[newsletter]-20200710-[classique]

CO2 eruptions triggered by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal:

Current projets:

Labex UnivEarthS: MYSTHIC – MobilitY versus STorage of HImalayan Carbon


French-German Master in Geophysics: Double master under the framework of the French-German University

Master managed by par Klaus Spitzer (TU Bergakademie Freiberg) and Frédéric Perrier


Recent internships

  • February-June 2023: Marie-Margot Robert M2 Dynamics of carbon dioxide at volcanic and non-volcanic geothermal zones: Numerical modelling and analogue experiments of gas dispersion in the atmosphere (supervisors Guillaume Carazzo and Frédéric Girault)
  • February-June 2022: Carine Sadaka M2 Probing the history and properties of meteorites using radon emanation (supervisors Ludovic Ferrière NHMW/Autriche and Frédéric Girault)
  • February-June 2022: Barbara Baldoni M2 Thermo-hydrological modeling of earthquake-sensitive hydrothermal systems in Nepal (supervisors Claude Mugler CEA/LSCE and Frédéric Girault)
  • January 2020-April 2021: Benita Wagner M2 Characterization of the Syabru-Bensi hydrothermal system in Central Nepal using the spectral induced polarization method (supervisors Jana Börner TUBAF/Germany and Frédéric Girault)
  • August 2019-January 2020: Chloé Magnan M1 Thermo-hydrological modeling of hydrothermal perturbations triggered by earthquakes (supervisors Claude Mugler CEA/LSCE and Frédéric Girault)
  • December 2018-February 2019: Elsi Guillermin L3 Eléments de thermodynamique en milieux souterrains : application à la grotte ornée du Pech Merle (Lot, France) (supervisors Frédéric Girault and Frédéric Perrier)
  • January-February 2018: Roxane Ferry L3 Relations entre flux de dioxyde de carbone et potentiels électriques : comparaison entre trois systèmes hydrothermaux de référence au Népal central (supervisor Frédéric Girault)
  • March-May 2017: Alix Fournier M1 Instrumentation des grottes préhistoriques et magnétisme environnemental : la grotte ornée de Pech Merle (supervisors Frédéric Girault and Aude Isambert, internship in collaboration with Paleomagnetism team)
  • January-February 2017: Marie Bouih L3 Caractérisation des émissions de CO2 métamorphique sur le système hydrothermal de Bahundanda au Népal central (supervisor Frédéric Girault)
  • April-September 2016: Bastien Joly M1 Caractérisation pédologique et structurale pour l’interprétation de données d’émanométrie : synthèse de données satellitaires et mesures en laboratoire (supervisor Frédéric Girault, internship partly in a private company)
  • June 2016: Roxane Ferry and Maud Watkinson L1 Etude du radon dans les eaux d’un torrent du Mont Lozère (supervisor Frédéric Perrier)
  • June 2016: Roxane Ferry L1 Préparation et mesures magnétiques dans des échantillons de sols et de plantes du Pech Merle (supervisors Frédéric Girault and Aude Isambert, internship in collaboration with Paleomagnetism team)
  • January-February 2016: Etienne Marti L3 Magnétisme environnemental: Etude de la grotte ornée de Pech Merle (encadrante Aude Isambert, internship in collaboration with Paleomagnetism team)
  • January-February 2015: Marina Bernard L3 Etude du radon dans diverses eaux de la région parisienne (supervisor Frédéric Perrier)