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Geoseminar: Paleoseismology in Steep Terrain

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 4 pm– 5 pm

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Paleoseismology in Steep Terrain by Dr. Derek Rust, University of Portsmouth, UK. 

Palaeoseismology as a research specialization in geology has expanded enormously since the disastrous Tangshen earthquake of 1976, followed by the unsuccessful Parkfield earthquake experiment, brought about a realization that predicting earthquakes was scientifically out of reach. Instead, and aided particularly by the USGS Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, efforts have been directed towards ‘earthquake forecasting’, assigning earthquake probabilities and threat levels to major seismogenic faults. A notable example being the 72% probability of an earthquake of M 6.7 or greater affecting the Bay Area of California before 2043 (Aagaard et al, 2016).

Such forecasts are based in large part on detailed investigations at favorable field localities that preserve a record of recent past fault behavior, this being considered the best index of impending future tectonic activity. The talk will outline examples of paleoseismological work on the Talas-Fergana fault in the Tien Shan mountains of central Asia, and on the San Andreas fault in the Transverse Ranges of southern California, with the aim of identifying potential opportunities in such settings.

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