Quick Links


Lecture Outline


Lecture Materials

Earthquake Info

Current EQs

Earthquakes and Seismic Hazards

GEOL 344 (3 credits)

Fall 2013
3 lectures per week: MWF 12.30-1.20pm
Mines 306

Simon Kattenhorn
Department of Geological Sciences
Office: McClure 303B
Phone: (208) 885-5063

Office Hours: Tuesdays (1.30-3.00 pm)

Course Description

Examines the geology of earthquakes, including the mechanics of fault failure, interpretation of seismic waves, seismicity associated with all fault types in a variety of tectonic settings, methods for the identification of paleo-earthquakes in the geological record, and assessing seismic risk in active fault environments. Case examples include the San Andreas fault system, the Cascadia system of the Pacific Northwest, and the Aleutian system of Alaska.

Damage from the Northridge earthquake, Los Angeles (M6.7), 1994.

Damage from the Kobe earthquake, Japan (M6.9), 1995.

Prescribed Course Materials:


Textbook: The Geology of Earthquakes (Yeats, Sih, and Allen). Out of print but HIGHLY recommended you try to obtain a copy. Limited copies available in the UI bookstore.

Additional Reading (not required):

Earthquakes - 5th edition (Bolt)
The San Andreas Fault System, California (Wallace)
Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest (Yeats)
Paleoseismology - 2nd edition (McCalpin)
Earthquake Hazards Analysis (Reiter)

Course Breakdown:

1. Introduction. Seismically active regions of the world. Earthquake statistics. Structure and composition of the Earth's crust. Overview of plate tectonics.

2. Mechanics of faulting. Classification of faults. Stress and strain. Elasticity of rocks. Brittle failure of rocks. Fault friction and Coulomb failure. Pore pressure and effective stress. Seismic and aseismic fault slip. Elastic rebound theory. Geodetic measurements of fault slip.

3. Seismic waves. Characteristics of elastic waves. Wave types produced by earthquakes. Instrumentation methods. Magnitude and intensity scales. Determining epicenters and focal mechanism solutions.

4. Strike-slip faulting. Definitions and tectonic settings. Transform faults in extensional and compressional environments. Intraplate strike-slip faults. Fault geometry and evolution. Regional structure of strike-slip faults. Case histories: San Andreas fault system (1906 San Francisco; 1989 Loma Prieta); North Anatolian fault system (1999 Izmit earthquake). Earthquake triggering.

5. Normal faulting. Definitions and tectonic settings. Spreading centers. Hot spots. Back-arc basins. High plateaus. Intracontinental rifts. Fault geometries, segmentation and 3D evolution. Slip rates and recurrence intervals. Fault spacing. Case history: 1983 Borah Peak, Idaho earthquake.

6. Reverse faulting. Definitions and tectonic settings. Convergent margins. Thin-skinned and basement-involved faulting behind arcs. Reverse faults in strike-slip systems. Within-shield reverse faults. Fault geometries and surface deformation. Slip rates and recurrence intervals.

7. Subduction zone megathrusts. Characteristics and classification of subduction zones. Failure characteristics. Case histories: Sumatra subduction zone (the M9.1 December 2004 earthquake and resultant tsunami); Cascadia system and hazard to the Pacific Northwest (1700 Great Cascadia earthquake - M9.0).

8. Paleoseismology. Classification of paleoseismic evidence. Field techniques. Stratigraphic and sedimentary evidence of ancient earthquakes. Tectonic geomorphology.

9. Seismic hazard assessment. Hazard versus risk. Probabilistic versus deterministic assessment methods. Logic trees. Natural and artificial earthquake triggering. Earthquake engineering and risk mitigation. Seismic hazards in the United States. Seismic hazards in Idaho. Earthquake prediction.

Supplementary Course Materials

Course Syllabus

Lecture Outline

Homework Assignments

Online Class Materials

Past Exams

Earthquake Information and Resources

Earthquakes Information Page

Fall 2013 Earthquakes

Quake News:
24 September: M7.7 quake in Pakistan forms new island
22 August: M6.5 New Zealand quake effects
18 August: Seiches in Norway caused by Japan quake

Mandatory Field Trip

There will be a mandatory 4-day field trip to the Borah Peak, Idaho (M6.9) and Hebgen Lake, Montana (M7.3) earthquake rupture sites (Saturday, October 12th - Tuesday, October 15th). People should be sharing tents wherever possible to lessen the amount of equipment we will need to take with us. Breakfast and dinner will be prepared in camp (cooking equipment will be available). Lunches will be prepared each morning in camp and taken with us in the field (we will not return to camp until the evening).

UI Civility Clause

In any environment in which people gather to learn, it is essential that all members feel as free and safe as possible in their participation. To this end, it is expected that everyone in this course will be treated with mutual respect and civility, with an understanding that all of us (students, instructors, professors, guests, and teaching assistants) will be respectful and civil to one another in discussion, in action, in teaching, and in learning. Should you feel our classroom interactions do not reflect an environment of civility and respect, you are encouraged to meet with your instructor during office hours to discuss your concern. Additional resources for expression of concern or requesting support include the Dean of Students office and staff (5-6757), the UI Counseling & Testing Center's confidential services (5-6716), or the UI Office of Human Rights, Access, & Inclusion (5-4285).

Destruction in Anchorage (1964)

Visit Simon's website