Projects with current Ph.D. students:
Assessment of seismic hazard maps
My research involves assessing the performance of earthquake hazard maps. Engineers and city planners use these maps to make decisions for hazard mitigation, but frequently the maps used prove ineffective, and there is no agreed upon metric for defining map success. My work focuses on quantifying the performance of hazard maps, so objective comparisons can be drawn between maps. Ultimately, this work can be used to ask the question of how good must a map be to be successful?
I study large earthquake temporal clusters from a probabilistic perspective. This includes simulating paleo-earthquake records that exhibit temporal clusters to understand the broad characteristics and behavior of faults in different tectonic regimes. My research proposes an alternative to the traditional earthquake cycle model that allows a fault’s past to influence its future likelihood of experiencing an earthquake. Additionally, my research looks at qualitative intensity distributions from large historical earthquakes in California, which can facilitate a better understanding of how well current probabilistic seismic hazard assessments reflect the observed record of earthquake intensities and damage.
I’m interested broadly in plate tectonics and structural geology, and my research involves studying North America’s Midcontinent Rift (MCR) and how it can provide insight into the continental rifting process in general. It appears that the MCR contains many features found in other rifts as well as passive continental margins, and studying their structure as well as geophysical properties such as gravity and magnetics sheds light on their possible evolutionary paths. I’ve also been involved in working on paleo-plate tectonic reconstructions and paleomagnetics of the Precambrian, and plan to further study apparent polar wander and how changes in direction might be linked to tectonic activity such as rifting.
My research focuses on earthquakes, including both seismic hazards and what they tell us about long-term geologic processes. My previous research has included seismicity studies of lithosphere tearing and subsequent transform fault development along the Australia-Pacific subduction zone. Using Coulomb Failure Stress, b-value, and earthquake rupture property analyses, I examined the transform plate boundary development process. Currently, I am studying the seismic hazard posed by earthquakes along the eastern continental margin of North America by examining what the possible maximum earthquake magnitude might be.
I have had the good fortune to work with many outstanding graduate students. I have been a thesis advisor to:
Douglas Wiens; (Ph.D. 1985), now Brookings Distinguished Professor , Washington University in St. Louis; Fellow, American Geophysical Union
Joe Engeln; (Ph.D. 1985), now Assistant Director for Science, Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Paul Stoddard; (Ph.D. 1989), now Associate Professor, Northern Illinois University
Gary Acton*; (Ph.D. 1990), now Assistant Professor, Sam Houston State University (Texas); Fellow, Geological Society of America
George Helffrich; (Ph.D. 1990), now Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology Earth-Life Science Institute; Fellow, American Geophysical Union
Tom Shoberg+; (Ph.D. 1993), now Research Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey
John Weber*+; (Ph.D. 1995), now Professor, Grand Valley State University (Michigan); Fellow, Geological Society of America
John Delaughter+; (Ph.D. 1998), now geophysicist, Devon Oil
Lisa Leffler+*, (Ph.D. 1999), now Earth Science teacher, Fairhope Alabama
Andy Newman+; (Ph.D. 2000), now Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Fred Marton; (Ph.D. 2001), now Associate Professor, Bergen Community College (New Jersey)
Eryn Klosko; (Ph.D. 2002), now Department Chair and Professor, Westchester Community College (New York)
Alberto Lopez; (Ph.D. 2006), now Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico
Kimberly Schramm; (Ph.D. 2007), now seismologist, Sandia National Laboratory
Carl Ebeling+; (Ph.D. 2012), now research geophysicist, UC San Diego
Laura Swafford+; (Ph.D. 2013), now geophysicist, Chevron
Miguel Merino+; (Ph.D. 2014), now geophysicist, Chevron
I have also worked with:
Paul Lundgren; (Ph.D. 1988), now research scientist and group supervisor, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Charles DeMets*; (Ph.D. 1988), now Wegener Professor of Geophysics, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Fellow, American Geophysical Union
Don Argus; (Ph.D. 1990), now Principal Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology; Fellow, Geological Society of America
John Brodholt; (Ph.D. 1992), now Professor, University College, London
Phil Richardson+; (Ph.D. 1998), now Geophysical Coordinator for Europe, Chevron
Emily Wolin; (Ph.D. 2015), now Research Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey
*Students whose joint paper with me won an AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award
+Awarded the department`s Horace Scott Award for Outstanding Graduate Research and Potential