SCEC Science Plan


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). SCEC graduated from the STC Program in 2002 and has been funded as a stand-alone center under cooperative agreements with both agencies in four consecutive phases: SCEC2, 1 Feb 2002 to 31 Jan 2007; SCEC3, 1 Feb 2007 to 31 Jan 2012; SCEC4, 1 Feb 2012 to 31 Jan 2017; and SCEC5, 1 May 2017 to 30 Apr 2022. SCEC involves over 1,000 scientists at more than 60 institutions in its research program. SCEC’s research program is investigator-driven and open to anyone who is willing to submit a qualified project plan for peer review. SCEC funding supports research and education in seismology, tectonic geodesy, earthquake geology, computational science, and many interdisciplinary studies in earthquake science.

The core funding is allocated through an annual planning process that involves input from the entire SCEC community, as well as counsel from an external Advisory Council and the sponsoring agencies. A SCEC Science Plan is released each fall, which solicits proposals from individuals and groups to participate in the SCEC research program for the following year. Every year, more than 150-175 proposals are submitted to SCEC. These projects involve over 200 distinct investigators and many more graduate students and other early career scientists. Every proposal is reviewed and about 80 subawards are executed on an annual basis (each project typically ranging from $10,000 to $35,000). About two-thirds of the SCEC science budget goes to students and early-career scientists engaged in research.

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


Every investigator listed on the proposal must have a registered account on, with current contact information and profile information updated.

Proposal Due Date
November 15, 2017 (5:00pm Pacific Time)


What's New This Year

The SCEC Science Plan (aka RFP) reflects the research priorities articulated in the SCEC5 proposal, and the project plan approved by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey. The SCEC Science Plan detailed in this document is provisional pending final SCEC5 Year 2 budget authorization. Substantial changes have been made to the RFP since last year, so we strongly encourage researchers to read carefully the RFP in its entirety.

  • The time-period for SCEC funded projects will reset to the dates SCEC has traditionally used: February 1 as the start date, and January 31 as the end date.

  • As a reminder, the Science Planning Committee (PC) was reconfigured for SCEC5. The current composition includes four disciplinary committees (Seismology, Tectonic Geodesy, Earthquake Geology, and Computational Science), and five interdisciplinary focus groups (FARM, SDOT, EFP, GM, SAFS, CXM and EEII), each with individual representation in the PC. The PC also includes two members representing the Special Projects.

  • A new focus area, called “Earthquake Gates” was started in the first year of SCEC5. This initiative is designed to foster multidisciplinary studies of the factors that permit earthquakes to start or stop (as at a gate). To organize this initiative the SCEC community held an incubator workshop in March 2017 and solicited proposals to establish Earthquake Gate Areas. The Cajon Pass Region has been selected as the first Earthquake Gate of SCEC5. Refer to section 5.5 SAFS for more information on the Earthquake Gates Initiative and the Cajon Pass Earthquake Gate Integrated Science Plan.

  • As a reminder, investigators that anticipate use of SCEC computational resources and/or help from SCEC software developers for proposed research must consult with SCEC Special Projects leadership to estimate support time and coordinate activities.

  • As a reminder, investigators interested in undergraduate summer interns should include an "intern project" description in their proposal. The undergraduate intern will be recruited by the SCEC CEO Program staff. Selected intern projects will be awarded as supplemental funds on the proposal award. Funds used for summer stipends and travel support to the SCEC annual meeting for the selected undergraduate students will be managed at and dispersed from USC. The number of intern projects awarded each year will depend on available funding in the SCEC annual budget and the pool of interested applicants.

  • A new SCEC Transitions Program has been launched for SCEC5. This program will provide students and early-career scientists with resources and mentoring, particularly at major transitions in their educational and professional careers. In doing so, the Transitions Program aims to encourage and sustain careers in the geosciences and other STEM fields. The SCEC Transitions Program welcomes proposals that expand awareness of professional advancement opportunities and pathways, as well as improve competency in earthquake research tools and techniques of the junior members of the SCEC community.

  • As a reminder, geochronology infrastructure supports Accelerator Mass Spectrometer analysis of 14C, 10Be, 26Al, and 36Cl through collaboration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California, Irvine (14C only). Luminescence dating (OSL, pIR-IRSL) will be supported through regular proposal budgets, through arrangement with a luminescence laboratory (see Earthquake Geology section for suggestions).

  • As a reminder, SCEC no longer supports proposals solely for annual meeting participation. Funding for travel to participate in the SCEC Annual Meeting will be considered only in the context of a research proposal in response to the current Science Plan. International travel funding for a co-investigator to participate in the SCEC Annual Meeting will be considered, provided the proposal clearly states (a) how the investigators are critical to the project and (b) a plan for how the international participant’s institution will cost-share the anticipated travel expenses.