SCEC Science Plan

SCEC FUNDED PROJECTS
PAST SCIENCE PLANS

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) was founded as a Science & Technology Center on February 1, 1991, with joint funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). Since 2002, SCEC has been sustained as a stand-alone center under cooperative agreements with both agencies in three consecutive, five-year phases (SCEC2-SCEC4). The Center has been extended for another 5-year period, effective 1 Feb 2017 to 31 Jan 2022 (SCEC5). SCEC coordinates fundamental research on earthquake processes using Southern California as its main natural laboratory. Currently, over 1000 earthquake professionals participate in SCEC projects. This research program is investigator-driven and supports core research and education in seismology, tectonic geodesy, earthquake geology, and computational science. The SCEC community advances earthquake system science by gathering information from seismic and geodetic sensors, geologic field observations, and laboratory experiments; synthesizing knowledge of earthquake phenomena through system-level, physics-based modeling; and communicating understanding of seismic hazards to reduce earthquake risk and promote community resilience.

The annual SCEC Science Plan (aka RFP) solicits proposals from individuals and groups to participate in the SCEC research program on an annual basis. Typical grants awarded under the SCEC Science Plan fall in the range of $10,000 to $35,000. This is not intended to limit SCEC to a fixed award amount, nor to a specified number of awards, but rather to calibrate expectations for proposals submitted to SCEC. Field research investigations outside southern California are generally not supported.

Questions not answered in the Science Plan? Email proposals[at]scec.org.
Questions about the online SCEC Proposal System? Email web[at]scec.org.

RESEARCH VISION CURRENT RFP GUIDELINES REVIEW PROCESS AWARD PROCESS

Earthquakes are emergent phenomena of active fault systems, confoundingly simple in their gross statistical features but amazingly complex as individual events. SCEC’s long-range science vision is to develop dynamical models of earthquake processes that are comprehensive, integrative, verified, predictive, and validated against observations. The science goal of the SCEC5 core program is to provide new concepts that can improve the predictability of the earthquake system models, new data for testing the models, and a better understanding of model uncertainties.

The validation of model-based predictions against data is a key SCEC activity, because empirical testing is the most powerful guide for assessing model uncertainties and moving models towards better representations of reality. SCEC validation efforts tightly couple basic earthquake research to the practical needs of probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, operational earthquake forecasting, earthquake early warning, and rapid earthquake response. Moreover, the risk-reduction problem—which requires actions motivated by useful information—strongly couples SCEC science to earthquake engineering. SCEC collaborations with engineering organizations are directed towards end-to-end, physics-based modeling capabilities that span system processes from “ruptures-to-rafters.”

SCEC connects to the social sciences through its mission to convey authoritative information to stakeholders in ways that result in lowered risk and enhanced resilience. SCEC’s vision is to engage end-users and the public at large in on-going, community-centric conversations about how to manage particular risks by taking specific actions. The SCEC Communication, Education, and Outreach (CEO) program seeks to promote this dialog on many levels, through many different channels, and inform the conversations with authoritative earthquake information. Towards this goal, the SCEC5 CEO program continues to build networks of organizational partners that can act in concert to prepare millions of people of all ages and socioeconomic levels for inevitable earthquake disasters.

The SCEC5 Science Plan was developed by the non-USGS members of the SCEC Planning Committee (PC) and Board of Directors with extensive input from issue-oriented “tiger teams” and the community at large. The strategic framework for the SCEC5 Science Plan is cast in the form of five basic questions of earthquake science: (1) How are faults loaded on different temporal and spatial scales? (2) What is the role of off-fault inelastic deformation on strain accumulation, dynamic rupture, and radiated seismic energy? (3) How do the evolving structure, composition and physical properties of fault zones and surrounding rock affect shear resistance to seismic and aseismic slip? (4) How do strong ground motions depend on the complexities and nonlinearities of dynamic earthquake systems? (5) In what ways can system-specific studies enhance the general understanding of earthquake predictability? These questions cover the key issues driving earthquake research in California, and they provide a basis for gauging the intellectual merit of proposed SCEC5 research activities (see full SCEC5 proposal).

The SCEC Science Planning Committee (PC) is responsible for developing the SCEC Annual Science Plan, which describes the Center’s research interests and priorities, and the SCEC Annual Collaboration Plan, which details how resources will be allocated to projects. The PC is chaired by the SCEC Co-Director (Greg Beroza), who is assisted by a PC Vice-Chair (Judi Chester). The PC comprises the leaders of the SCEC science working groups—disciplinary committees, focus groups, and special project groups—who, together with the working group co-leaders, guide SCEC’s research program. The Executive Director for Special Projects (Christine Goulet) manages science activities in the externally funded SCEC Special Projects and coordinates these activities with PC and the SCEC IT Architect (Phil Maechling), who has oversight of SCEC Information Technology, including the software standards for data structures and model interfaces. The Center Director (Tom Jordan) and the Associate Directors for Administration (John McRaney) and CEO (Mark Benthien) serve as ex officio members. The PC is responsible for formulating the Center’s science plan, conducting proposal reviews, and recommending projects to the Board of Directors for SCEC support. Its members play key roles in implementing the SCEC5 science plans. With the beginning of SCEC5, we have restructured the PC – reducing it slightly in size, evolving some groups, and changing the membership significantly in an effort to both revitalize the PC, and to ensure that it is aligned with the goals of SCEC5.