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February 2023 SCEC Update

Date: 02/15/2023

Dear SCEC Community,

Our hearts go out to the people in Turkey and Syria who have been affected by the devastating earthquakes that began with the M7.8 earthquake on February 6, 2023. The USGS is leading a coordination effort under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) of US agencies and groups involved in earthquake response to share information and provide support to ongoing efforts in Turkey and Syria. The SCEC community is participating in these activities on several levels including sharing information through a rapid science investigations website (https://beta-response.scec.org/m7-8-southern-turkey/), holding discussions, giving interviews, and participating in scouting and response teams. SCEC is also supporting Sinan Akciz to travel to Turkey for fieldwork, in coordination Turkish colleagues and the USGS geologic mapping group.

The recent earthquake sequence in Turkey occurred on a complex fault system that bears many similarities to the San Andreas Fault System in California. The magnitude M 7.8 of the first event is similar in size and type (continental strike-slip) to the two large historical earthquakes in California: the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (M 7.9) in Northern California and the 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake (M ~7.9) in central and Southern California. These similarities highlight how important understanding these earthquakesand their devastating effects are to SCEC’s mission. It is notable that the magnitude 7.8 of the recent event in Turkey was considerably larger than what was expected based on estimated sizes of earthquakes in the area over the past several centuries, and that accelerations of over 1g were recorded in many locations. The magnitude and seismic shaking associated with other recent large earthquakes in California and elsewhere were also larger than expected. We clearly need to improve our ability to estimate the expected size of large earthquakes and the strong ground motions they generate, and to use this knowledge to increase the resilience of communities to earthquakes. 

Many of us participated in a USGS Northern CA Workshop during January 31 - February 2 that included a special session on the M6.4 Ferndale earthquake of December 2022 and other damaging events in California. The meeting also included a session to discuss future plans of SCEC, including how to develop Community Earth Models for California. This was also discussed in a USGS San Francisco Bay region velocity model workshop on February 14. The USGS, SCEC, CGS, and other partners will co-convene a workshop in June focused on developing integrative community earth models for California. These discussions and planning activities will continue throughout this year.

The Science Planning Committee (SPC) of SCEC convened in January to review proposals submitted to our 2023 collaboration plan. The recommendations of the SPC will be forwarded to the SCEC Board of Directors and agencies for approval in the coming weeks. Our main goals in 2023 are to complete and synthesize SCEC5 activities, and to lay the foundation for future Center initiatives. We would like to use this opportunity to recognize two recent transitions at SCEC headquarters. Bill Savran has taken a new role as Seismic Network Manager at Nevada Seismological Laboratory after leading CSEP activities at SCEC in the last 5 years, and Yongfei Wang has taken a position at Verisk after conducting research on dynamic ruptures and earthquake hazards in the last 3 years as a SCEC postdoctoral scholar. Please join us in thanking them for their contributions and wishing them success in their new endeavors!

Although the world is tumultuous, we are looking forward to a brighter spring. According to Punxutawney Phil, there are less than 6 more weeks of winter (in the northern hemisphere). Stay tuned for additional updates in the Spring.

Best regards,

Yehuda Ben-Zion (Director)
Greg Beroza (Co-Director)
Tim Dawson (Board Chair)
Rachel Abercrombie (Board Vice-Chair)