Tuesday, September 20, 2016 AGS Luncheon

"They’re hard to identify and nonthreatening,
so what makes slow earthquakes so significant?

Noon Luncheon 11:30-1:00 pm

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Geodetic and seismic observations indicate that slow earthquakes, where a fault slips on timescales of hours to years, accommodate motion along the deeper portion of major plate boundaries. On subduction zone faults, slow slip is observed beneath the locked zone and often accompanied by tectonic tremor, a messy seismic signal characterized by continuous 1-10 Hz shaking. While it is evident this phenomenon plays a critical role in relieving stress on the plate interface, the nature of these signals makes tracking them difficult, however, and a clear understanding of the processes controlling their behavior remains elusive. With examples from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, I will present an overview of we do and don’t know, how we monitor this behavior and what it means for earthquake physics, plate boundary dynamics and regional tectonics.


Speaker: Aaron Wech, USGS, Alaska Volcano Observatory, Anchorage

Aaron Wech is a research geophysicist at the USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage where he works on basic and applied research problems in earthquake and volcano seismology. Originally from Kansas, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics at Kansas State University and his Doctor of Philosophy in geophysics from the University of Washington in 2010, where he specialized in slow earthquakes, subduction zone dynamics, and earthquake physics. Through his research, he developed a new technique for detecting non-earthquake sources, which he turned into a real-time monitoring system for the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) to track slow earthquakes. After spending a few years as a New Zealand Earthquake Commission Research Fellow in Wellington, New Zealand, Aaron moved to Alaska to join the USGS in 2013. Here he has expanded his interests to volcanoes and has worked to develop a new alarm system for detecting volcanic tremor at the Hawaiian and Alaska volcano observatories. In addition to Alaska, Aaron still remains actively engaged in monitoring efforts at the PNSN, and his research has ultimately included work in the Pacific Northwest, California, Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, Taiwan
and Japan.

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