Earthquakes and Earth in Motion; Faults and Flow

Tony Lowry

USU Geophysics "In The News"

Doctoral Research Fellowship Opportunity: Lithospheric Dynamics at Utah State University

"Water in the Lower Crust and Mantle: Enigmatic Driver of Western U.S. and East Africa Rifting"

The Geophysics group in Utah State University's Department of Geology is offering a Presidential Doctoral Research Fellowship to begin Fall of 2017. USU PDRF's are prestigious opportunities to perform frontier research with four years of enhanced stipend support, tuition and health insurance provided. The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr. Tony Lowry with cross-disciplinary co-supervision from Drs. John Shervais, Dennis Newell & Ravi Kanda. The opportunity is in Logan, Utah with close proximity to a wide variety of recreational and cultural activities.

Project Description: For a half-century, the solid Earth sciences has maintained a paradigm that mantle temperature variations drive plate tectonics. However new observations suggest that hydration is an important contributor to variations in buoyancy, strength, and phase that promote tectonism. This research initiative will use the combined weight of new observations from seismic and electrical imaging, coupled with new tools for characterizing in-situ properties of thermal and hydration state and advanced numerical modeling, to examine the role of hydration in buoyancy and dynamics of rifting in the western U.S and East Africa.

We are seeking a curiosity-driven student with strong quantitative and geoscience skills who is also interested in Earth science applications in geodynamics and natural hazards. For more information, contact me. Applications to the graduate school can submitted here. The deadline for application to this PDRF opportunity is January 7, 2017.
The role of crustal quartz in continental tectonism... (More info...)

Gravity, surface heat flow and EarthScope seismic data are combined in a new tool for measuring the averaged abundance of quartz in the Earth's crust... And the results are surprising.
Slow fault slip after the 2004 M9.3 Sumatra- Andaman earthquake (More info...)

The 2004 earthquake is the largest to occur since the dawn of GPS positioning. In the first two years post-event, GPS sites on the Andaman Islands continued to move upward and southwestward by up to half a meter. These motions serve to relax stress changes during the earthquake, but the mechanism is unclear: Poroelastic fluid movements, flow of hot rock deep in the Earth and continued fault slip at depth are all candidate processes. Large differences in motion at closely-spaced (10-30 km) sites however suggest that fault slip played a dominant role in the first two years. (Coming soon: Fault slip and viscoelastic flow also play about equal roles in transient deformation from the most recent two years of data, with fault slip slightly dominant!)
Slow opening of the Rio Grande Rift (More info...)

The Rio Grande Rift in Colorado and New Mexico is often cited as the type-example of a "narrow" continental rift. Four years of continuous measurement at 26 GPS sites suggests that opening of the rift is occurring at rates of 1.5 to 2.5 millimeters per year, but comparison to regional GPS sites indicates that the strain is surprisingly broadly distributed (over more than 300 km width at 95% confidence). The eastern limit of rifting is unbounded by existing measurements, but total width may be 500 km or more. By comparison, the width of rifting across the eastern Basin-Range (a type example for a "wide" continental rift province) is only 120 km.
"Our future is being decided now in a struggle that pits two divergent rivers of intellect:
one that views truth as an objective reality, to be pursued through honest and open inquiry,
a second that views reality as a fluid, and truth as a football match in which the ball advances via advocacy.

But an ideology that neglects reality,
or relies on the manufacture of false doubt and obfuscation of the truth,
will collapse of its own corruption.

To which future do you belong?"

Updated 20/May/2015 Tony Lowry