Thanks to a $4.6 million taxpayer-funded grant, a UC Riverside geophysics professor will lead a research project focused on earthquake dynamics to determine when and where the next big one might hit.
Professor James Dieterich in the UCR Department of Earth Sciences and a team of researchers from Brown University, USC, San Diego State University, UCSD and the U.S. Geological Survey will study tectonic shifts worldwide, looking for commonalities that could help with forecasting quakes.
"Observations of earthquakes go back only about 100 years,'' Dieterich
said. "If we get the physics right, our simulations of plate boundary fault systems ... will span more than 10,000 years of plate motion and consist of up to a million discrete earthquake events, giving us abundant data to analyze.''
The five-year National Science Foundation grant will support efforts to create enhanced fault system models that graphically represent the ground shaking associated with damaging quakes, according to Dieterich.
"The simulations will help us better understand the interactions that give rise to observable effects,'' he said. "They are computationally fast and efficient, (yielding better) long-term earthquake forecasting capabilities.
More accurate forecasting has practical advantages -- earthquake insurance, for example, relies heavily on forecasts. More important, better forecasting can save more lives.''
Research will center on the characteristics of temblors larger than 8.0 on the Richter scale. Dieterich noted that an increasing segment of the world's population lives in earthquake-prone areas.
Along with scholars from the other universities, Dieterich will be joined by UCR geology professor David Oglesby and UCR geophysics professor Elizabeth Cochran, as well as several graduate students, to complete the project. --City News Service