2015 Research Projects

Systematic Detection of Microearthquakes Around the World

Project Description: Earthquakes occur every day in California and elsewhere around the world, either naturally or induced by human activity. While many have been identified and located by analysts in seismic network centers, a significant fraction of them are still missing, especially during an intensive earthquake swarm, or immediately after moderate-to-large earthquakes. These missing events could be largely identified by semi-automatic waveform matching technique, which uses waveforms of existing events as templates to scan through continuous data for new events with high similarities. I see two undergraduate interns to work with a group of graduate students to conduct systematic detections of small earthquakes using this technique. The target regions include geothermal/tectonically active regions in California, waste-water injection sites in Central and Eastern US, as well as polar/glacier regions. These newly detected events will be used to better understand physical mechanisms of earthquake triggering, induced seismicity, and icequakes. Students will learn how to conduct scientific research and necessary computer tools in the frontier of earthquake seismology.
Intern(s): Clara Daniels, Eva Smith, Bridget Casey

Zhigang Peng, Georgia Institute of Technology
Xiaofeng Meng, Graduate student
Chastity Aiken, Graduate student


Geodetic Studies of the San Andreas Fault, San Bernardino Mountains

Project Description: Collect GPS data from the San Bernardino Mountains and vicinity. Interns will learn how to set up and operate geodetic-quality GPS antennae and receivers and will then travel as a pair to remote locations in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains and vicinity to set up GPS equipment over existing benchmarks. This will often involve hiking several miles to reach remote benchmarks and may involve camping at less remote benchmarks in order to guard the equipment from theft. Interns will also help to train a large group of other undergraduate students and high school and middle school teachers in the use of the GPS equipment beginning on July 6. Data collection will be completed by around July 17, with the remaining 4 weeks of the internship available for modeling and interpreting the GPS site velocities in terms of fault slip rates and preparation of a research poster to present at the SCEC meeting in September.
Intern(s): Liam DiZio, Tiffany Vlahopoulos

Sally McGill, California State University, San Bernardino


SCEC Geochronology Synthesis

Project Description: One summer intern will work closely with project mentors to compile SCEC3 and SCEC4 geochronology results from paleoseismic trenches and landforms. The objective of this project is to produce a database of results with associated project metadata. This is also an opportunity to explore temporal clustering of ages that may reflect climate-related processes of sedimentation and landscape evolution.
Intern(s): Griffin McMullen

Mike Oskin, University of California, Davis
Veronica Prush, Graduate student


Modeling Rupture through the Brawley Seismic Zone Stepover: Can Ruptures Propagate Between the San Andreas and Imperial Faults?

Project Description: Using recent geological and paleoseismic data, we propose to model potential earthquakes in the region of the southern San Andreas-Imperial fault stepover, with the goal of determining the likelihood of earthquakes spanning this structural gap. This project is the collaboration of fault geologists and earthquake modelers with an intern who will work with and synthesize results from both disciplines. The intern will start the summer with PIs Meltzner and Rockwell at SDSU, where he/she will work on setting the final faulting configurations based on geological data. After approximately 2-3 weeks at SDSU, the intern will construct and implement dynamic faulting models with the help and supervision of PI Oglesby and a postdoctoral researcher at UCR.
Intern(s): Drew Tulanowski

David Oglesby, University of California, Riverside
Thomas Rockwell, San Diego State University
Aron Meltzner, Senior research fellow


Basin Inversion Along Transpressional Fault Systems

Project Description: Miocene basins formed during the rifting of Inner California Continental Borderland and adjacent regions were subsequently inverted by post-Miocene transpression along major northwest-trending right-slip fault zones. This project will focus on the Miocene basins uplifted along the flanks of the Santa Cruz-Catalina Ridge and the conjugate rift margin represented by the coastal fault systems including the Newport-Inglewood-Rose Canyon, Carlsbad and San Mateo, Palos Verdes and THUMS-Huntington Beach fault zones. Objectives are to define the geometry of the Miocene rift basins, timing of uplift, and recognition of significant post-Miocene tectonic events that will help more accurately describe the regional tectonic evolution. Stratigraphic control from well logs available in the public domain will provide stratigraphic control for the coastal basins, and seafloor samples from Miocene outcrops on the elevated Borderland ridges and islands provide control offshore. In addition, mapping the geometry of the faults active in the basin evolution and inversion in 3D will provide better control on defining potential for large earthquakes on the offshore transpressional fault systems including potential for tsunami generation.
Intern(s): Alivia Stoller

Mark Legg, Legg Geophysical


Improving the Density of GPS velocities in Southern California by Reoccupation of Campaign GPS Sites

Project Description: We propose to undertake a campaign of field GPS surveys in three areas where coverage of existing GPS velocity data is poor. We will target sites where a single new measurement will lead to significant improvements in precision of velocity estimates. Our target areas will be: (i) the Western Transverse Ranges, including the Ventura basin – a SCEC Special Fault Study Area that has limited existing GPS data coverage; (ii) the Elsinore fault, a structure capable of sustaining large earthquakes about which comparatively little is known; and (iii) the central San Jacinto fault, where a persistent seismic gap and high seismic hazard exist.
Intern(s): David Guenaga

Gareth Funning, University of California, Riverside
Nader Shakibay Senobari, Graduate student


InSight - Vital Signs of the Planet Program Internship

Project Description: InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) is a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars in 2016 to study its deep interior. The mission homepage is at: The Vital Signs intern will assist program leaders in the administration and implementation of the Vital Signs of the Planet program including:

  • Assist with planning and facilitation of program activities in June, July, and September 2014.
  • Participate in a 5-day field research component in partnership with California State University, San Bernardino using survey mode GPS to monitor tectonic deformation in Southern California.
  • Present research findings at the SCEC Annual Meeting in Palm Springs, CA in September 2014
  • Assist in the planning, coordination, and implementation a daylong InSight science workshop for Southern California science educators to be held at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands.

Intern(s): Luis Gomez, Hernan Lopez

Robert de Groot, University of Southern California