My research is focused on understanding how earthquakes occur along oceanic transform faults. I am specifically interested in a system of faults that offset the East Pacific Rise just south of the Equator called the Quebrada, Discovery, Gofar (QDG) faults. I use a number of geophysical tools to understand how observed seismicity characteristics such as earthquake magnitude, spatial distribution, and time correlate to the physical properties of the fault. I have developed a set of numerical models to estimate the temperature structure surrounding oceanic transform faults. Temperature is a key property that controls where in the oceanic lithosphere large earthquakes will be sustained. I also use Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS) data from an extensive seismic experiment at the QDG faults. This data is particularly valuable for determining the location and slip characteristics of earthquakes, and for resolving earthquake properties that are unavailable from far-field observations. With this data, I am performing a tomographic inversion for the velocity structure of the lithosphere surrounding these faults using wide-angle refraction data collected across the Quebrada and Gofar faults. The velocity structure will provide information about fault zone lithology and the degree to which the fault material has been fractured by earthquakes over time. I hope to combine results from these analyses with precise earthquake locations and observations of rupture characteristics from large events to better understand the friction and stress conditions along the fault. Insight from these studies will ultimately improve our understanding of oceanic and continental fault systems, where large earthquakes commonly result in great humanitarian cost.
Last updated: April 4, 2012