Erland M. Schulson

George Austin Colligan Distinguished Professor of Engineering

Director, Ice Research Laboratory

Professor Schulson is founder and director of the Ice Research Laboratory and studies the relationship between the structure and mechanical behavior of metals and ice. (Photo by John Sherman)

Research Interests

Flow and fracture of ice; mechanical behavior of metals and alloys; physical metallurgy and materials science


  • BASc, Metallurgical Engineering, University of British Columbia 1964
  • PhD, Metallurgical Engineering, University of British Columbia 1968


  • Fulbright Arctic Chair (Norway), 2013
  • Fellow, TMS (The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society), 2006
  • Fellow, ASM International, 2003
  • George Austin Colligan Distinguished Professorship, 1999
  • Fulbright Fellow (France), 1998/9
  • Visiting Research Fellowship, General Electric Company, 1988

Professional Activities

  • Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) (Fellow)
  • ASM International (Fellow)
  • American Geophysical Union
  • International Glaciological Society
  • Highly cited materials scientist

Research Projects

  • Micromechanics of ice and other materials

    Micromechanics of ice and other materials

    Research is conducted to determine physical processes that underlie brittle failure on scales large (Arctic) and small (laboratory). The current goal is to relate failure of the arctic sea ice cover and fracture during ice interaction with off-shore engineered structures to processes such as wing-crack and comb-crack formation and the development of shear faults. The underlying hypothesis is that brittle compressive failure is a scale-independent process driven by intermittent frictional sliding and stable crack growth. The hypothesis is applicable to other brittle materials as well, such as ceramics, rock, and minerals.

Selected Publications

  • Choukroun, M., J.L. Molaro, R. Hodyss, E. Marteau, P. Backes, E.M. Carey, W. Dhaouadi, S. Moreland and E.M. Schulson, "Strength evolution of ice plume deposit analogs of Enceladus and Europa," Geophys. Res. Letts., (2020), doi: 10.1029/2020GL088953.
  • Murdza, A., E.M. Schulson and C.E. Renshaw, "Strengthening of columnar-grained freshwater ice through cyclic flexural loading," J. Glaciology, (2020), 1-11, doi: 10.1017/jog.2020.31.
  • Renshaw, C.E., E.M. Schulson, D. Iliescu and A. Murdza, "Increased fractured rock permeability after percolation despite limited crack growth," J. Geophys. Res., (2020), 125 (8), doi: 10.1029/2019JB019240.
  • Renshaw, C.E., E.M. Schulson and D. Iliescu, "Experimental observation of the onset of percolation in freshwater granular ice," J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, (2019), 124 (3), 2445-2456, doi: 10.1029/2018JB016414.
  • Schulson, E.M., "Friction of sea ice," Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A (2018), 376: 20170336, doi: 10.1098/rsta.2017.0336.
  • Yasui, M., E.M. Schulson, and C.E. Renshaw, "Experimental studies in mechanical properties and ductile-to-brittle transition of ice-silica mixtures: Young's modulus, compressive strength and fracture toughness," J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 122, (2017), doi: 10.1002/2017JB014029.
  • Renshaw, C.E., E.M. Schulson and S. Sigward, "Experimental observation of the onset of fracture percolation in columnar ice," Geophys. Res. Lett. 4, (2017), 1795-1802, doi: 10/1002/2016GL071919.
  • Renshaw, C.E. and E.M. Schulson, "Strength-limiting mechanisms in high-confinement, brittle-like failure: Adiabatic transformational faulting," J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 122, (2017), 1088-1106, doi:10.1002/2016JB013407.
  • Schulson, E.M., S.T. Nodder and C.E. Renshaw, "On the restoration of strength through stress-driven healing of faults in ice," Acta Mater. 117 (2016), 306-310, doi: 10.1016/j.actamat.2016.06.046.
  • Snyder, S.A., E.M. Schulson and C.E. Renshaw, "Effects of prestrain on the ductile-to-brittle transition of columnar ice," Acta Mater. 108 (2016), 110-126, doi: 10.1016/j.actamat.2016.01.062.
  • Schulson, E.M., "Low-speed friction and brittle compressive failure of ice: fundamental processes in ice mechanics," Intern. Mater. Rev., 60(8), (2015), 451-478, doi: 10.1179/1743280415Y.0000000010.
  • Kim, E. and E.M. Schulson, "A phenomenological explanation of the pressure-area relationship for the indentation of ice: Two size effects in spherical indentation experiments," Cold Reg. Sci. Techn., 115(2015) 48-55.
  • Schulson, E., "Sliding heavy stones to the Forbidden City on ice," PNAS, 110 (2013), 50, 19978-19979, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1319581110.


  • Heat-treated zirconium alloy product | 4,226,647
  • Preparation of zirconium alloys | 4,094,706


  • ENGS 132: Thermodynamics and Kinetics in Condensed Phases
  • ENGS 139.2: Polar Science & Engineering: Physics & Chemistry of Ice, Polar Glaciology, Remote Sensing
  • ENGS 130: Mechanical Behavior of Materials
  • ENGS 24: Science of Materials
  • ENGS 139.1: Polar Science & Engineering: Solidification, Sea Ice, Strength & Fracture of Ice

In the News

The Dartmouth
Academic experiences differ by major choice
Aug 21, 2013
Polar E&P: the iceman cometh
Jun 04, 2012
Ode To Ice
Jan 30, 2012
Associated Press via Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Federal agency awards contract for sea ice study
Sep 23, 2011
Spaceflight Now
NASA grows ice for space shuttle testing
Mar 07, 2011
VOX of Dartmouth
Cold Call
Mar 07, 2011