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, 2019 (5:00pm Pacific Time)


What's New This Year

SCEC Science Planning Committee, October 2019

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 4 budget authorization. The Southern California Earthquake Center is committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all participants. Substantial changes have been made to the RFP since last year, so we strongly encourage researchers to read the RFP carefully and in its entirety.

  • The performance period for SCEC-funded projects will have an effective February 1, 2020 start date and January 31, 2021 end date. Workshops funded in response to this Science Plan must be scheduled between February 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
  • Proposal guidelines (Section 3.3.4) have been revised and will be strictly enforced going forward. Proposals that do not comply with the guidelines will be returned without review.
  • Again this year, some geodesy, or other topical, proposals may be funded through partnerships with NASA scientists (including JPL). See details in Section 3.3.4: 2. Project plan.
  • New this year, some research on properties and dynamics of the shallow crust may be supported through a new special project funded by DOE. See details in Section 3.3.4: 2. Project plan.
  • The Ridgecrest earthquake sequence provides important new data and research opportunities across the SCEC collaboration, including, but not limited to: constraints on the stress field, earthquake interaction, ground motion prediction, and the community rheology model .
  • New this year, investigators that anticipate extensive use of research computing and/or cyberinfrastructure support through SCEC should consult with the Computational Science group leaders, Ricardo Taborda ( and Ahmed Elbanna ( as described in section 4.4.2.
  • Prior to proposal submission, investigators should contact Tran Huynh ( to ascertain the relevant SCEC capabilities that may contribute to the proposed project, as well as guidance on the developer level of effort needed. Estimates of developer time requested should be entered in the online budget form as noted in the “budget justification” section.
  • The “Earthquake Gates” focus area was started in the first year of SCEC5. This initiative is designed to foster multidisciplinary studies of the factors that lead 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 and only Earthquake Gate of SCEC5. We do not plan to initialize any additional Earthquake Gate Areas in years 4-5 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.
  • Investigators interested in undergraduate summer interns should contact the SCEC Communication, Education, and Outreach (CEO) office. The undergraduate intern will be recruited by the CEO Program staff. Selected intern projects will be awarded as ​supplemental funds on the proposal award and are not considered part of the proposed project budget. 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.
  • The SCEC Transitions Program was launched at the beginning of SCEC5. This program provides 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 2 earthquake research tools and techniques of the junior members of the SCEC community. New this year, the SCEC Transitions Program offers for Research Travel Awards to help Early Career Researchers attend and present conferences that might otherwise be out of their financial reach.

Investigators planning to a submit proposal should also note that:

  • We take pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive SCEC community, and therefore expect all participants to abide by the SCEC Activities Code of Conduct, as approved by the SCEC Board of Directors in June 2018.
  • The 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 an arrangement with a luminescence laboratory (see Earthquake Geology section for suggestions).
  • 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. The requested international funding support should not exceed $1,500 per person in the proposed budget.
  • There is a renewed call to develop methodologies to validate ground motion simulations based on dynamic rupture simulations, for systematic assessment of aleatory variability and epistemic uncertainty in simulated ground motions, and for the development of methodologies to validate and calibrate estimates of permanent displacements.