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December 2011

Professor Jean-Paul Ampuero receives NSF Faculty Early CAREER Development Award - the award supports the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. His specific award title is "Integrating earthquake physics and source imaging while engaging the Hispanic community."

Did Foo Fighters Show Really Cause Geological Tremors? - Victor Tsai, assistant professor of Geophysics at Caltech, tells E! News that it isn't that unusual for large gatherings of people to cause such tremors (E-online)

Ironing Out the Details of the Earth's Core - Identifying the composition of the earth's core is key to understanding how our planet formed and the current behavior of its interior. While it has been known for many years that iron is the main element in the core, many questions have remained about just how iron behaves under the conditions found deep in the earth. Now, a team led by mineral-physics researchers at Caltech has honed in on those behaviors by conducting extremely high-pressure experiments on the element. (press release)

Twenty fourth-graders, from Lycée International de Los Angeles in Tarzana, spend a day at the TO - In the morning, Nadaya Cubas led an activity on mountain building using a sandbox, while Marion Thomas gave a presentation on volcanoes. After lunch, Erin Burkett led the students on a tour of the Seismo Lab. The students then turned the tables, giving presentations to the scientists on the seismometers they had built themselves (photo1 | photo2)

Severe weather triggers earthquakes - New research presented this week at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco does not suggest that all earthquakes are caused by storms or that all storms cause quakes. But by identifying some of the many conditions that put stress on faults, the new work may help scientists better forecast future tremors Discovery News | Science News

TO scientists visit four 8th grade classes in South Carolina, via Skype - Not withstanding the time difference, Jean-Philippe bravely addressed student questions in the first class (8 A.M. EST), with Sylvain Barbot, Kristel Chanard, and Belle Philibosian speaking with progressively later classes (photo)

Professor Hiro Kanamori gave the Union Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture at the December 2011 AGU meeting in San Francisco - "Bridging the Gap between Science and Practice in Seismology – Lessons from the 2011 Tohoku-oki Earthquake" (Video)

November 2011

Moore Foundation awards $6 million to three West Coast universities for research leading to west coast earthquake Early warning system - While people living near the epicenter of a quake will not have much warning, those farther from a large quake could have seconds or tens of seconds of notice before the ground shakes. More...

The TO held its eighth annual meeting on Nov 8 and 9 - A lively group of about 90 people attended. The 70 or so poster contributions were grouped by theme; for each theme, the posters were first introduced with three minute talks, followed by a poster session for that theme. A good time was had by all! (Agenda | Posters coming soon)

October 2011

Professor Jason Saleeby to lead field trip for Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Frazier Park, CA on Oct 31 - "Geology of the northern Mojave Desert and Tehachapi Mountains"

Professor Jason Saleeby gave public lecture at the White Mountain Rescue Station in Bishop, CA on October 27 - "Epeirogenic transients related to mantle lithosphere removal in the southern Sierra Nevada region" (more info)

Professor Joann Stock led workshop for teachers at the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) annual conference - Her workshop on how tectonics shaped Southern California's landscape was part of the field course "Shaking Out in Southern California – A Tour of the Caltech Seismological Laboratory"

Professor Jean-Paul Ampuero received a 2010 AGU Editors' Citation for excellence in refereeing

Caltech Science Saturdays Film Screening for Families on "Journey of a River from Mountain to Sea" - Graduate student Joel Scheingross hosted the October 22, 2011 event and led a discussion on how freshwater has produced many of the Earth's wonders, such as spectacular waterfalls, the Grand Canyon, and wildlife in the world's deepest lake (more info)

Graduate Student Luca Malatesta has received two awards relating to his Master's studies - the Willi-Studer Prize for the best Master's studies in the department of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich, and the Swiss Geological Society Award for the most outstanding Master’s thesis in Earth Sciences

July 2011

Stolper Elected to Great Britain's Royal Society - The Society cited Stolper for his "experimental and theoretical work on melting and igneous processes on the Earth, Mars, and asteroids" (press release, Royal Society article)

June 2011

Earthquakes: The lessons of Tohoku-Oki - An exceptional data set documents surface deformation before, during, and after the earthquake that struck northeastern Japan in March 2011. But models for assessing seismic and tsunami hazard remain inadequate. (Science News and Views article) (Jun 15, 2011)

May 2011

First Large Observational Study of 9.0 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake - Data reveals surprising findings about energy distribution over the fault slip and stress accumulation in the Japan Trench: The length of the rupture was significantly smaller than expected for such a large earthquake; Seismic waves of different frequencies came from different areas of the fault; The strain associated with the fault slip was 10 times greater than expected for this area of the Japan Trench (press release | Science highlight | Science article) (May 19, 2011)

The Wave That Shook the World - Graduate student Nina Lin led a discussion about tsunamis at Caltech's Science Saturday, an event for general audiences held in Beckman Auditorium (more info) (May 21, 2011)

Caltech grad students visit local classrooms - Belle Philibosian and Steve Kidder visited four 6th grade classes at PUSD's Blair Middle School to share what it is like to be a geologist (May 19, 2011)

Caltech grad student leads presentation for kids for Caltech Alumni Day - Michelle Selvans led a discussion on the film Earth Story: the colossal forces that created our planet (May 14, 2011)

Apr 2011

Caltech grad students visit local classrooms - Nina Lin and Ajay Limaye led presentations on Erosion and Weathering in four 4th grade classrooms at PUSD's Washington Elementary School (Apr 22, 2011)

GPS Data is Used in an Entirely New Way: To Model Effects of Tidal Loads on Earth's Surface - Mark Simons, professor of geophysics at Caltech's Seismological Laboratory, and Takeo Ito, visiting associate at the Seismological Laboratory and assistant professor of earth and planetary dynamics at Nagoya University in Japan, are using data from GPS satellite systems to measure the solid earth's response to the movements of ocean tides—which place a large stress on Earth's surface—and to estimate separately the effects of Earth’s density and the properties controlling response when a force is applied to it (known as elastic moduli). They have discovered that the density of the asthenosphere under the western United States and the eastern Pacific Ocean is abnormally low relative to the global average (press release) (April 15, 2011)

Graduate Student Steven Kidder has been awarded two NSF postdoctoral fellowships, each for two years - First, Steve will do his post doc with Dave Prior at the University of Otago, New Zealand under the International Research Fellowship Program. Then he will continue his postdoctoral work with Professor Christian Teyssler, in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Minnesota. (Apr 2011)

Graduate Student Younghee Kim has been awarded a scholarship from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) - This year the SEG is honoring 138 students at universities in 21 different countries for outstanding accomplishments in geophysics (Apr 2011)

Yu-Nung Nina Lin, graduate student in geology, has been awarded the Li Ming Scholarship for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Good Vibrations Inside the Earth - Assistant Professor Jennifer Jackson gave a Watson Lecture for general audiences on Wednesday April 13, at 8 pm, in Beckman Auditorium. Dr. Jackson showed how modern devices such as diamond-anvil cells and high-power infrared lasers can be used on minerals to recreate the crushing pressures and flaming temperatures suspected to exist deep within Earth, while extremely brilliant synchrotron x-radiation probes the minerals' properties. The results reveal an exciting and dynamic terrain deep inside our planet. [ more info | Video on iTunes U]

Professor Jennifer Jackson led a group of high school students on a tour of her lab and then joined them for dinner, as part of Caltech's Junior Watson Program (April 9, 2011)

New research by Caltech Tectonics Observatory scientists proposes new mechanism for processes that have shaped the Himalaya Mountains and Tibet, the most tectonically active continental area in the world - Alex Copley, a former postdoctoral scholar with Caltech’s Tectonics Observatory, along with Jean-Philippe Avouac, professor of geology and director of the Tectonics Observatory, and Brian Wernicke, the Chandler Family Professor of Geology, performed a series of numerical experiments that reveal evidence for a strong Indian lower crust that couples, or locks in, with the upper crust. This suggests that the "channel flow" model proposed by many geophysicists and geologists, is not correct. (press release | Our Amazing Planet) (April 6, 2011)

Mar 2011

Eminent seismologist Hiroo Kanamori, Caltech's Smits Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, was in Tokyo on March 11, experiencing firsthand the largest earthquake in the country's recorded history. - "It's hard to believe that it was a coincidence that I arrived there on the eve of a once in a thousand years' event," says Kanamori. (press release) (March 31, 2011)

Lucile Bruhat receives an Outstanding Student Paper Award at the 2010 Fall Meeting of the AGU - for her presentation on the "Relative Contribution of Stable Afterslip and Viscoelastic Relaxation Following the 2004 Parkfield Earthquake," work done as part of her internship at Caltech's Tectonics Observatory (March 31, 2011)

Tectonics Observatory hosts conference for Geoscience teachers - the Spring 2011 Conference of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) far-western section was held over the weekend of March 25 at Caltech. Workshop/field trip leaders and presenters included Caltech Professors Ken Farley, John Eiler, Brian Wernicke, Joann Stock, Tom Heaton, Mike Lamb, Jennifer Jackson, and Jess Adkins. Over 90 teachers and students from colleges and high schools attended (see conference web site) (March 25 - 27, 2011)

Geodesy Specialist John Galetzka gives two presentations in Nepal on earthquake safety - at the US Ambassador's residence as part of a special town hall meeting for American citizens, and at the US Embassy. Over 100 people attended each talk (March 23 and 24, 2011)

Professor Joann Stock among a group of government and university researchers collecting seismic images of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys - the pictures, part of the U.S. Geological Survey's Salton Seismic Imaging Project (SSIP), will help investigate the geometry of the San Andreas Fault, identify hidden faults, and provide more information about the composition of sediments in the area. (press release) (March 16, 2011)

Three Caltech graduate students, Jena Johnson, David Case, and Erika Swanson, serve as judges at science fair - at Eliot Middle School, PUSD (Mar 16, 2011)

Thirty five middle school students from local Pasadena Unified School District tour the Tectonics Observatory - as part of an after school robotics club outing. Postdoc Sylvain Barbot presented his research on the dynamics of earthquake propagation and earthquake cycles, and shared his background and what led him to become a scientist (March 8, 2011)

Two hundred and forty 6th grade students from nearby San Marino Unified School District tour the Tectonics Observatory - Postdoc Erin Burkett discussed her research on the dynamics of subducted plates; Graduate Student Belle Philibosian gave a slide show on her travels to Sumatra to study corals showing how they reveal the time and size of past earthquakes; Visiting Associate Researcher Jamshid Hassanzadeh led a discussion on minerals in everyday life and demonstrated how to get water from a rock; Graduate Student Yihe Huang discussed the physics of earthquakes; Graduate Student Junle Jiang discussed his research on tsunamis; and Graduate Student Nina Lin had the students create their own landslides using layers of flour, sugar, and coconut (Feb 1 and 3, Mar 1 and 3, 2011)

Feb 2011

Research Geologist Tim Raub leads discussion at Caltech's REEL Science in Beckman Auditorium, Friday February 4 at 10 am - Tim introduced the film "Inside Planet Earth" and led a discussion afterwards. This program is aimed at students in grades 5 through 12 (more info) (Feb 4, 2011)

Jan 2011

Professor Jean-Philippe Avouac visits local High Point Elementary School 4th grade class - to discuss earthquakes and plate tectonics (Jan 25, 2011)

Visiting Associate Researcher Jamshid Hassanzadeh visits local Blair High School Earth Science class - presenting "The periodic table in everyday life." Jamshid demonstrated how you can remove water from the mineral gypsum (leaving behind plaster) with only a Bunsen burner. The students asked many questions such as "How much water is released per year by factories that make plaster from gypsum?" And "How many people would that supply water to?" (Jan 20, 2011)

Sixth grade students tour the Tectonics Observatory - About 75 students from American Martyr Catholic School learned about how earthquakes and landslides shape the landscape. Postdoc James Hollingsworth modeled the motion of tectonic plates as they move through the asthenosphere using graham crackers, chocolate bars, corn starch, and honey, while grad student Nina Lin had the students create their own landslides using layers of flour, sugar, and coconut (Jan 6, 2011)

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