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Seismo Lab Director Michael Gurnis with a team of scientists from the University of Texas, IBM Research and New York University were awarded the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize at the annual Supercomputing Conference. The team developed innovative algorithms for a mathematical approach called an "implicit solver" to realistically simulate mantle convections and plate tectonics at ultra-high resolution and accuracy. The new software reached an unprecedented 97 percent parallel efficiency in scaling the solver to 1.6 million cores, a new world record. [PR Newswire]
In the event of a major earthquake in Los Angeles, first responders ideally would immediately have a map of the most intense shaking around the city-allowing them to send help to the hardest-hit areas first.
A new collaboration between Caltech researchers and schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) provides a crucial step in the creation of such damage maps by vastly broadening the scope of a dense network of seismic sensors in the Los Angeles basin. [Caltech Article]
By many who owe him much
The following reminiscences, scientific and otherwise, were contributed by Don Anderson's scientific colleagues. Incomplete though they are, they give a flavor of the extraordinary range of Don's activities, his influence on Earth science, and the phenomenon that was the Caltech Seismological Laboratory in his time.
Click here to read full article.
Located primarily in the Seismological Laboratory, the Geophysics Option in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences provides unique opportunities for graduate students to excel in academics and engage in cutting-edge research. The Seismo Lab welcomes Jorge Castellenos, Jack Muir, and Minyan Zhong.
Jorge received his B.S. degree in Geophysical Engineering at the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon. In 2015, he received a M.S. in Earth Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he worked with large seismic array datasets to characterize subduction zone dynamics underneath Mexico. His main research interests are geodesy, seismic wave propagation and the use of inverse theory to determine Earth structure. When asked why he chose Caltech, Jose says, “Caltech provides me the opportunity to explore freely the different branches of Earth Science while working with the World leading researchers in these fields.”
Jack received a Bachelor of Philosophy with honors in physics from the Australian National University in 2014. He has done internships in condensed matter physics, astrophysics, and geophysics. Jack has worked on projects involving Bayesian inference applications to the differential rotation of Earth’s inner core and Joint inversion of lowermost mantle P-wave velocity and core-mantle boundary topography. His research interests include inverse problem methods, bayesian statistics, ambient noise correlations and deep mantle structure. For Jack, “Caltech is an exciting place to work due to the large and diverse faculty and student body, which provides a wealth of experience on which to draw.”
Minyan received his B.S. from Peking University (Beijing, China) in 2015, double-majoring in Geophysics and Software Engineering. During his undergraduate studies, he worked on problems related to surface wave tomography, in order to retrieve surface-wave phase velocity across seismic arrays. He is interested in ambient seismic noise, development of Geophysical methods, and EQ physics related to super shear rupture. When asked why he chose Caltech, Minyan says, “There are many world-class faculty here, working in different subfields of geophysics, and the atmosphere of collaboration here is really great.”
One of the biggest unknowns in understanding the effects of climate change today is the melting rate of glacial ice in Antarctica. Scientists agree rising atmospheric and ocean temperatures could destabilize these ice sheets, but there is uncertainty about how fast they will lose ice.
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is of particular concern to scientists because it contains enough ice to raise global sea level by up to 16 feet, and its physical configuration makes it susceptible to melting by warm ocean water. Recent studies have suggested that the collapse of certain parts of the ice sheet is inevitable. But will that process take several decades or centuries? [Caltech Article]
Michael is a senior at Caltech, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. This fall he entered the Master's program in Geophysics, which is part of the B.S./M.S. program for undergraduate students at Caltech. Michael is from Richmond, Virginia and after attending Caltech's pre-frosh weekend, he knew Caltech was the best fit for him. This past summer, Michael worked on acoustic emission experiments at Schlumberger in Salt Lake City. When he is not working on magnetostratigraphy or tutoring at the Hixen Writing Center, he is working on an electric-powered go-kart for the Society of Automotive Engineers "Formula SAE" competition.
Seismo Lab Postdoctoral Scholar, Hsin-Hua Huang, is interested in exploring various tectonic problems seismologically and gaining better understanding of Earth structure, including a wide spectrum of topics such as regional structural kinematics, unusual earthquake sequences, mountain building process, 3-D slab interaction, and crustal magmatism system. One of his recent focuses is on improving seismic imaging from the shallow crust to the upper mantle with multi-dataset joint inversion and waveform methods. In the meantime, he is also working on seismic interferometry to extracting new body-wave data set from earthquake coda and probing the deep Earth. One of his works that unveils the lower crustal magma reservoir beneath the Yellowstone has recently been published on journal Science.
The Earth is a living planet, as revealed by tectonic processes spanning various time and spatial scales, including earthquake, volcano eruptions, mountain building, basin formation, etc. All these tectonic processes are dominated by the solidus buoyancy flow inside the Earth's mantle - mantle convection. Southeast Asia is a unique place to investigate the effects of mantle convection on surface tectonics. This intriguing place has the most prominent low dynamic topography on Earth at present, as indicated by numerical models and observations. Sundaland, the continental core of Southeast Asia, underwent intense deformation in the past, as revealed by the low seismic velocity in the lithosphere and upper mantle, widespread rifting basins and high heat flux. However, Sundaland is tectonically quiet at present and manifests as the low seismicity and strain rate. We investigate global mantle viscosity and temperature structures with the constraints of geoid, free air gravity, gravity gradients and residual topography. With the knowledge of mantle temperature and viscosity structures, we focus on the dynamic evolution of Southeast Asia, with dynamic models considering both lithospheric scale deformation and mantle convection. We demonstrate that a large mass of dense, cold slab material lay horizontally within the transition zone beneath southern Sundaland before the Miocene, due to the impedance of the 660 phase boundary. During the early Miocene the stagnant slab became unstable and penetrated into the lower mantle, forming a slab avalanche event. This slab avalanche event induced significant change in large scale topography, stress field and basin regimes and sedimentary environments in southern Sundaland. We suggest that the slab avalanche might have occurred beneath other subduction zones and generated strong changes on surface tectonics.
The Mineral and Rock Physics focus group of the American Geophysical Union has awarded Dongzhou Zhang the 2015 Graduate Research Award, in recognition of his Ph.D. thesis work on the development and application of new techniques to constrain melting points of iron-alloys under extreme conditions.
Established in 1990, the Mineral and Rock Physics Graduate Research Award is given annually to one or more promising young scientists (current Ph.D. students and individuals who have completed the degree requirements for a Ph.D. or highest equivalent terminal degree up to 12 months prior to the nomination deadline) in recognition of outstanding contributions achieved during their Ph.D. research.
Click here for a list of present and past recipients.
At the Annual Meeting of COMPRES last week in Colorado Springs, a contest was conducted to select the best poster presenter, with the winners to receive one of the 150 Euro book vouchers from Springer-Verlag. Natalia won for her presentation of "Spin crossover and equation of state of (Mg.Fe)O". All four winners were graduate students currently at member institutions of COMPRES.
The winners are:
Alisha Clark, University of California Davis
Rebecca Fischer, University of Chicago
Dylan Rittman, Stanford University
Natalia Solomatova, Caltech
Click here for information on COMPRES.
Congratulations to the Geological & Planetary Sciences Division graduates! In particular, we would like to recognize the Seismological Laboratory's Geophysics doctoral graduate Dongzhou Zhang.
The American Geosciences Institute has named Hiroo Kanamori, John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, as the recipient of the Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal for 2015.
The Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal is given to a recipient with consistent contributions of high-quality scientific achievements and service to the Earth Sciences having lasting, historic value; who has been recognized for accomplishments in field(s) of expertise by professional societies, universities, or other organizations; and is a senior scientist nearing completion or has completed full-time regular employment. Prior to 2007 it had been called the AGI Legendary Geoscientist Award.
Congratulations Dr. Kanamori!
Click here for the list of previous recipients
Caltech Seismological Laboratory professor Joann Stock has been awarded a renewal of a KINGDOM Software Educational License from IHS Global, Inc.The amount of this 3 year grant is valued at $3,798,900.
The additional three-year license will allow continued interpretation of active source seismic data available from several locations (Antarctica, Mexico, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Southern California).
In addition, a student training class in marine geophysics on board ship in spring 2016 is in the initial planning stages. The cruise will collect multichannel seismic data in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. (See course description for Ge211, Applied Geophysics 11).
IHS Global, Inc's KINGDOM® software is an intuitive, cost-effective geoscience software solution. Kingdom combines simplicity and sophisticated science to provide basin-wide capabilities, advanced field evaluation, seismic and geological interpretation to well site identification and planning.
For more on Kingdom Software Educational Licenses click here.
On November 3, 2014 the Government of Japan announced the recipients of its Fall 2014 Decorations. Hiroo Kanamori, John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, will be receiving the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star for his contributions to education and research.
Dr. Kanamori's research on clarifying the source process of massive earthqaukes in order to quantify the physical process of the epicenter based on the seismic record was a breakthrough in the study of seismology. These research results have led to the development of systems to help reduce seismic disaster and also contributed to the spread of earthquake early warning and earthquake alarm systems in Japan.
Congratulations Dr. Kanamori!
Click here for the list of Fall 2014 Decoration recipients.
Congratulations to the Geological & Planetary Sciences Division graduates! In particular, we would like to recognize the Seismological Laboratory's Geophysics doctoral graduates pictured with Dr. Ken Farley (from left to right) Yihe Huang, Sara Dougherty, and Zhongwen Zhan.
The Seismological Society of America awarded Victor Tsai the Charles F. Richter Early Career award at the Annual Meeting held April 30 - May 2, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska. The presentation of the award will take place during the 2015 Annual Meeting, April 21-23, 2015 in Pasadena.
The Charles F. Richter Early Career Award honors outstanding contributions to the goals of the Society by a member early in her or his career. No more than one Richter Award may be given each calendar year. The Richter award is presented at the annual meeting following the year of the award.
Rachel Miller, 2nd year graduate student in geophysics, has been selected to receive a 2014 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. The NDSEG Fellowship is sponsored and funded by the Department of Defense. This fellowship is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated the ability and special aptitude for advanced training in science and engineering.
Dongzhou Zhang receives the 2013 National Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Studying Abroad, sponsored by the China Scholarship Council (CSC).
This award was founded by the Chinese government in 2003 with the purpose of rewarding academic excellence of self-financed Chinese students studying overseas. Only those with outstanding performance in their Ph.D. studies are considered for the award, and 518 students from all over the world were granted the award this year.