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Seismologist to discuss great earthquakes and tsunamis on Wednesday, October 19

The December 2004 and March 2005 Sumatra earthquakes were the two largest earthquakes to occur in the past 40 years. While the human tragedy that accompanied these events is hard to comprehend, the location of these earthquakes, at a subduction zone plate boundary, is well known to generate the greatest earthquakes and tsunamis worldwide. Susan Schwartz, professor of Earth sciences and director of the Keck Seismological Laboratory, will explore the tectonic environment of subduction zone faults in a talk this week entitled "Great Earthquakes and Tsunamis: How, Why, and Where?"

Photot of Susan Schwartz

Susan Schwartz, professor of Earth sciences, will discuss her research on earthquakes and tsunamis.

Schwartz's talk, part of the Science & Engineering Library's Synergy Lecture Series, will take place at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, in the library's Current Periodicals Room. Light refreshments will be available.

Schwartz will address questions of how and why great earthquakes and tsunamis occur at subduction zone faults and what factors control the mode and localization of strain release. Vast improvements in the quantity and quality of both seismic and Global Positioning System (GPS) data from subduction zones are allowing fault zones to be imaged. These images reveal a patchwork of frictional properties with a range of behaviors, from completely locked patches that will fail in large earthquakes to zones with high slip rates that are moving at the rate of the plate. Schwartz will discuss results she has obtained from the Costa Rica seismogenic zone and how that data adds to our overall knowledge of how, why, and where earthquakes occur.

More information about the lecture series is available at the S&E Library's Synergy Lecture Series web site or by calling (831) 459-3141.

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