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Perspective on the Field of Physics of Earthquakes

Yehuda Ben-Zion, Charles G. Sammis, & Thomas Henyey

Published 1999, SCEC Contribution #469

This article reports on the state of physics governing the behavior of earthquakes and faults, based on discussions held during a workshop of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) suggested by Tom Henyey and convened by Yehuda Ben-Zion and Charles Sammis at Snowbird, Utah, June 21—23, 1998. The objective of the workshop was to assess the current state of understanding of earthquake processes including event nucleation, propagation and arrest of ruptures, spatiotemporal seismicity patterns, interactions between faults, and evolution of fault systems. A better understanding of the earthquake process should enable scientists to develop seismic hazard assessment tools based upon improved estimates of the locations and sizes of future earthquakes and the time-dependent probabilities of their occurrence. It will allow incorporation of realistic simulations of dynamic rupture and wave propagation into hazard models so that time histories of strong ground-shaking from scenario earthquakes needed in performance-based seismic design of structures can be synthesized. There are many approaches to such problems, including continuum mechanics, statistical physics, laboratory experiments, and field observations. By bringing together experts in the various disciplines, we hoped to compare results and identify key problems for future research. A total of fifty-three scientists representing universities, the USGS, national laboratories, and government agencies participated in the workshop.

Ben-Zion, Y., Sammis, C. G., & Henyey, T. (1999). Perspective on the Field of Physics of Earthquakes. Seismological Research Letters, 70(4), 428-431.