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November 18, 2016

Complex, compound New Zealand earthquake – Part 2: Faulting by Day

Complex, compound New Zealand earthquake - Part 2: Faulting by Day

Reeling from the massive M7.8 earthquake at midnight, its relentless aftershocks, and the continuing coastal threat of tsunami, New Zealanders awaited daylight on Monday to see the full extent of the destruction. The bizarre seismic records observed overnight had raised confusion and speculation about what faults were to blame for this earthquake. With an epicenter on land but also a several meter tsunami, it was clear that some complicated combination of on- …

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October 26, 2015

Indian slab lurches downward beneath Afghanistan

Indian slab lurches downward beneath Afghanistan

As I walked into the department this bright brisk morning, coffee cheerily in hand, the live global seismogram display in the atrium caught my eye with an alarming event that had just happened during my bike ride into work. BIG earthquake, somewhere in the vicinity of Central/Southern Asia. Indeed, an earthquake deep (>200 km) beneath the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan had shaken a huge swath of Central and South …

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May 29, 2015

Views of strong shaking in Nepal and what they teach us

Views of strong shaking in Nepal and what they teach us

When the ground shook throughout Nepal in April, it was neither predicted nor surprising–the paradox of inevitable but chaotic large earthquakes within well known seismic zones. Though warnings of Nepal’s catasrophic earthquake risk have been sounded for years, and though this magnitude 7.8 and its energetic 7.3 aftershock wrought plenty of death, destruction, and tragedy, scientists are finding themselves somewhat surprised at the apparently rather limited degree of overall damage …

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April 17, 2015

Tearing through California Part 1: the Central San Andreas

Tearing through California Part 1: the Central San Andreas

On display in central and northern California is the rare and troublesome phenomenon that’s the mischievous cousin to sudden, wrenching earthquakes: slow, steady fault creep. Rather than remaining pressed firmly together until they lurch past each other in violent earthquakes, the two sides of a creeping fault glide gradually along, generally silently carrying along everything above them. The good news is that this process takes up strain that would otherwise be …

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