Large-scale Earthquake Cycles on Geometrically Complex Faults and the Validation of Models with Data

Date and time: 
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 09:00
220 Deschutes
Brittany Erickson
Portland State University
  • Alan Rempel (UO Earth Science)

A major societal issue in the Pacific Northwest is the impending large earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone.  Part of my future work is in the development of flexible computational methods for the study of earthquake cycles on geometrically complex faults, specifically for understanding earthquake hazards in Cascadia. Due to several computational challenges that I will discuss, there still is not a self-consistent earthquake cycle model for subduction zones, despite the fact that they generate the largest earthquakes and are often accompanied by devastating tsunamis. My goal over the next several years is to build a physically robust framework for studying subduction zone earthquakes and their influence on tsunami generation.

A second future project of mine involves the integration of earthquake cycle models with observational data. A first and necessary step is assurance that model results are credible. To this end, I have recently launched a group code verification effort with ~20 modelers from the international earthquake modeling community who will participate in code comparison exercises. Models that capture the varying temporal and spatial scales that characterize earthquake source behavior are crucial for understanding the real Earth.  Once these codes are verified, this effort will turn to code validation against geophysical data. This research involves collaborations with government monitoring agencies (the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA) in an effort to synthesize earthquake models with data collected near active fault zones, in order to make predictions that can help mitigate future hazards.


Brittany Erickson completed her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2010. She was awarded an NSF Earth Science Postdoctoral Fellowship which she took to Stanford University, and completed a second postdoc in Computational Seismology from San Diego State University. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Portland State University.