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January 17, 2005

UCSC-hosted public lecture Jan. 26 on earthquakes to include discussion on recent tsunami

By Tim Stephens

A public lecture this month in Santa Cruz on large earthquakes will provide a scientific perspective on the recent earthquake and tsunami in South Asia.

Susan Hough, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist, will speak on "The Very Long Reach of Very Large Earthquakes" on Wednesday, January 26, at 7 p.m. at the University Inn and Conference Center, 611 Ocean St., in Santa Cruz. Preceding her talk, from 6:30 to 7 p.m., UCSC scientists will answer questions from the audience about recent events in South Asia. Admission is free, and doors will open at 6 p.m.

The magnitude 9.0 Sumatra earthquake on December 26, 2004, showed the tremendous "reach" of very large earthquakes. In addition to the devastating tsunami, this earthquake generated enormously powerful waves within the Earth. Recently, scientists have learned that waves from large earthquakes may disturb faults in distant regions and cause "triggered earthquakes." Might the Sumatra earthquake generate similar triggered events around the globe? Hough will discuss this possibility and other implications of her research.

Hough's talk, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Imaging and Dynamics of the Earth (CSIDE) at UCSC, is part of the Distinguished Lecture Series of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology and the Seismological Society of America.

A USGS seismologist since 1992, Hough is editor-in-chief of Seismological Research Letters. Her research interests include the nature of ground shaking produced by large earthquakes, historic earthquakes (the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes in particular), earthquakes and earthquake hazard in India, and remotely triggered earthquakes.

Hough has published two books on earthquake science for the nonspecialist audience: Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don't Know) about Earthquakes, and Finding Fault in California: An Earthquake Tourist's Guide. A third book, Elastic Rebound: Past and Future Earthquakes on an Urban Planet (by Susan Hough and Roger Bilham), is scheduled for publication this year. Hough has also published several feature articles in magazines such as Natural History and American Scientist.

CSIDE, which is hosting Hough's lecture, is part of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at UCSC. CSIDE integrates UCSC expertise on dynamical processes within the Earth and imaging of the manifestations of those processes. Research is directed at quantifying the complex structures and interactions of Earth systems, ranging from Earth's core to the surface environment.

CSIDE director Susan Schwartz, a professor of Earth sciences and director of the Keck Seismology Laboratory at UCSC, will join other UCSC experts on earthquakes and tsunamis to answer questions before Hough's talk. Thorne Lay, IGPP director and professor of Earth sciences at UCSC, and research geophysicist Steven Ward are expected to join Schwartz.

For more information about this public lecture, contact Jennifer Fish at (831) 459-1235.


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