ASU researchers develop new technique to better understand where temblors are more likely to occur, help communities prepare
Some of the world's largest earthquakes occur on subduction zones, where a cold dense oceanic plate moves under a warmer continental plate. This was the case for the massive Tohoku earthquake in Japan in 2011, which was followed by a tsunami with waves up to 33 feet that left thousands dead and inflicted extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure, including four major nuclear power stations.
Manoochehr Shirzaei, an assistant professor at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, and Jennifer Weston, a former postdoctoral researcher at the school, have published a new technique for observing the behavior of these destructive tectonic settings and forecasting earthquakes in the journal Tectonophysics. (Weston is now at the International Seismological Centre in England.)
Shirzaei and Weston used measurements of surface displacement with GPS, in combination with the location and magnitude of characteristically repeating earthquakes, to investigate how the Japan subduction zone was behaving prior to a large earthquake.