Special Recognition

Thomas Goebel, Assistant Professor, Center for Earthquake Research and Information

NSF Early Career Award

Goebel Receives NSF CAREER Award

Will study earthquake triggering across many scales in lab and nature

Dr. Thomas Goebel, assistant professor in the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI), was recently awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Goebel’s award for $619,996, entitled “From slow to fast, micro to macro, single events to cascades: A multi-scale study of seismic event triggering in lab and nature,” is focused on earthquake triggering - a process by which earthquakes cause subsequent events with lag-times of seconds to years at distances of meters to thousands of kilometers and is responsible for 50-90% of all seismic events. Although earthquake triggering is important and occurs frequently, the primary underlying causes remain unresolved. Earthquake triggering leads to the generation of fore, main and aftershocks. Foreshocks may provide information about fault stress state and ensuing larger magnitude mainshocks. There has been some success in predicting aftershock frequency, however many questions remain, such as: Are aftershocks solely controlled by mainshock characteristics or are local crustal conditions in the Earth also important? What can we learn from the statistics of triggered events about rock and fault zone properties as well as fault roughness?

Earthquakes rarely occur in isolation but rather as intertwined sequences of fore, main and aftershocks. Events within a seismic sequence are linked by a process called triggering which is thought to be responsible for up to 90% of all earthquakes. The NSF-career project will concentrate on a multi-scale investigation of seismic triggering and aftershocks in lab and nature. We will use high-speed, broad-band optical and seismic instrumentation to detect triggered seismic events and to identify conditions that promote triggering.

Goebel's research focuses on the analysis of induced seismicity, fault structure and earthquake source processes. My work aims to improve the documentation of fault hydrology and crustal stresses using laboratory experiments, analytical and numerical models and statistical analyses.

I integrate observations and methods from a variety of disciplines such as rock mechanics, earthquake seismology and hydrogeology.