Drilling Deep for Earthquakes


This video was posted on the California Academy of Sciences website. Here Harold Tobin explains the goals of the NanTroSEIZE drilling project and how it ties into the larger picture of earthquake hazard assessment. This ship was also used during the JFAST project to drill the Tohuku earthquake fault. I’ve posted about the JFAST project before and here or learn more from their official page.


Italian seismologists convicted of manslaughter

Following the M6.3 L’Aquila earthquake in April of 2009, Italian seismologists and government officials were indicted for multiple accounts of manslaughter. The scientific community responded with widespread criticism.

The events leading up to the conviction, the conviction itself, and implications for the scientific and hazard-risk assessment communities was thoroughly summarized by Austin Elliot on his blog The Trembling Earth.

Please take some time to read his take on this event: http://tremblingearth.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/conviction-of-italian-seismologists-a-nuanced-warning/

A seismograph in every school

Figure 1: Build your own seismograph activity.

Last month I wrote an article titled A seismograph in every home, where I showcased an in-home seismograph network program created by the USGS. I brought up the idea of placing these in schools and incorporating a geoscience curriculum to bolster interest in the geosciences among the youth (am I allowed to call them that?). I was so excited about this idea (I probably wasn’t the first to have it) that I shot off an email to the USGS.

The reply I received informed me that a few seismographs have been placed in schools. However, if there isn’t already a geoscience program in place it can be difficult starting and maintaining contact with the school.

Good news though! I was informed that IRIS has a Seismographs in schools (SIS) program! This program gives teachers the opportunity to install a seismograph in their classroom and share data in real time. The SIS program includes resources for incorporating seismology into the classroom with everything lesson plans, seismograph activities (locating earthquake epicenters), and even a build your own seismograph activity (Figure 1).

Kids, get this in your classroom!

A seismograph in every home

The USGS has started an awesome program to develop denser coverage of earthquakes in California. Dubbed NetQuakes, essentially the program calls for a small seismograph installed in a home, connected to wifi and a power source. When a M3.0 or greater earthquake is recorded by the device it’s recorded ground motion data is sent via the internet to the USGS.

The goal of this program is to improve measurements of earthquake ground motion and assess shaking and damage areas. The improved data helps with future earthquake resistant building construction and retrofitting.

All the coolness aside of getting to have a seismograph in your home (for free) and contributing to Science, I think this presents a fantastic opportunity to public school science programs in California. Teachers could easily incorporate installing and calibrating the device into a geoscience curriculum. When an earthquake is recorded by the device students could look at and analyze the data they helped make (identifying P-wave and S-wave arrivals, ect.).

It would be smart for the USGS to approach and work together with California high schools. It would forward their goals to create a denser network of seismographs and create interest in the geosciences among the state’s youth.

Check out the Netquakes page to learn how to sign up.

and remember… A seismograph in every home!

The future of great earthquakes

The above talk titled: “Great Earthquake Ruptures in the Age of Seismo-Geodesy” is given by Professor Thorne Lay of UC Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate freshman at UCSC, I took Thorne Lay’s intro GE course Earth Catastrophes. It was your generic GenEd course geared to students of all majors. My major was then undeclared.
Thorne Lay’s lecturing style greatly impressed me. I never missed a single lecture; they were always, engaging, insightful, and fun. By the end of my Freshman year I had declared as an Earth and Planetary Science major. Thorne Lay’s course had been pivotal in interesting me in geology.
He is one of the better lecturers I can think of and even if you do not study earthquakes or geology, it is very informative and enjoyable.
The lecture begins at 5 min.