UW News

earthquakes & seismology


September 21, 2017

Hacking a pressure sensor to track gradual motion along marine faults

closeup of instrument tip

University of Washington oceanographers are working with a local company to develop a simple new technique that could track seafloor movement in earthquake-prone coastal areas.


September 7, 2017

Land-sea experiment will track earthquakes, volcanoes along Alaska Peninsula

map of Alaska Peninsula

The National Science Foundation is funding the largest marine seismic-monitoring effort yet along the Alaska Peninsula, a region with frequent and diverse earthquake and volcanic activity. Involving aircraft and ships, the new Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment will be led by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with partners at the University of Washington and…


April 10, 2017

USGS, partners launch a unified, West Coast-wide earthquake early warning system

screenshot

Events Monday celebrated the launch of a West Coast-wide earthquake early warning prototype system, and initial test users in Washington and Oregon.


March 28, 2017

Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth’s crust

instrument on mountain

An algorithm for stock prices can be used with GPS data to automatically detect slow-slip earthquakes at a single station, offering a new way to monitor seismic activity.


December 15, 2016

Underwater volcano’s eruption captured in exquisite detail by seafloor observatory

instrument on black lava

The cracking, bulging and shaking from the eruption of a mile-high volcano where two tectonic plates separate has been captured in more detail than ever before. A University of Washington study published this week shows how the volcano behaved during its spring 2015 eruption, revealing new clues about the behavior of volcanoes where two ocean…


November 2, 2016

New study co-authored by UW geologists looks at what lies below Mount St. Helens

snow-capped mountain in fall

Research that peers below Mount St. Helens finds that the material below the western and eastern half of the mountain is different material and temperatures, and suggests that the source of explosive magma is coming from the east.


February 2, 2016

UW awarded private, public grants to develop earthquake early warning tool

map with concentric circles

The UW is among West Coast universities awarded new funding to further develop ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system for the region.


February 1, 2016

UW seismologist speaking at White House earthquake preparedness summit

map with concentric circles

UW seismologist John Vidale will participate in a White House summit focusing on national earthquake preparedness.


December 16, 2015

UW Tacoma geoscientist tracked risks from deadly 2015 Nepal earthquake

The Annapurna Massif thrones above the city of Pokhara, and has shed several cubic kilometers of earthquake debris to form the city’s foundations.

When an earthquake struck Nepal in late April 2015, thousands of lives were lost in the initial disaster. But it was hard to assess the scale of the damage to rural areas, and still lurking were threats from unstable slopes and dammed glacier-fed lakes that could dislodge at any time to flood villages below. A…


August 17, 2015

UW researchers model tsunami hazards on the Northwest coast

The Pacific Northwest from space.

Recent press and social media coverage have reminded residents of the Pacific Northwest that they live in a seismically active region. Stretching offshore from northern California to British Columbia, the Cascadia subduction zone could slip at any time, causing a powerful earthquake and triggering a tsunami that would impact communities along the coast. Scientists from…


August 13, 2015

Documents that Changed the World: Charles Richter’s seismic scale, 1935

330px-CharlesRichter

A scale of simple numbers — the Richter Scale — unnerves us when we think about earthquakes, as Pacific Northwest residents have been prone to do lately. But who was Richter, and how did it all come about? Joe Janes takes a look for an installment of his Documents that Changed the World podcast series.


April 27, 2015

Tidal tugs on Teflon faults drive slow-slipping earthquakes

diagram showing brown slab below grey slab

Teasing out how slow, silent earthquakes respond to tidal forces lets researchers calculate the friction inside the fault, which could help understand when and how the more hazardous earthquakes occur.


February 11, 2015

Earthquake early warning begins testing in Pacific Northwest

graphic of map with numbers

The first early earthquake warning system for the region has begun testing with a small group of users at businesses and public agencies in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.


January 27, 2015

UW researchers helping region get ready for the next Big One

colored map

On the anniversary of a massive earthquake off our region’s coast, UW researchers are working on everything from tsunami evacuation structures to updated seismic hazard maps.


January 7, 2015

How the ‘Beast Quake’ is helping scientists track real earthquakes

seismograph

Scientists with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network will install instruments this Thursday to provide real-time monitoring of the stadium’s movement during the 2015 NFL playoffs. It’s a valuable test of their newest seismic technology.


August 15, 2014

Research from 1960s shakes up understanding of West Coast earthquakes

people placing corer on boat

A new study used seabed samples collected by UW graduate students in the late 1960s to question current interpretations of earthquake frequency along the West Coast.


January 17, 2014

UW seismologists expand stadium monitoring for NFC championship game

A Seattle Seahawks "12th man" flag, representing the fans, flies over the Space Needle.

UW scientists installed a third seismograph at CenturyLink Field this week after the trial by fire of a website and new monitoring tools during last weekend’s Seahawks game.


July 14, 2013

Some volcanoes ‘scream’ at ever-higher pitches until they blow their tops

Redoubt Volcano's active lava dome as it appeared on May 8, 2009.

Swarms of small earthquakes before a volcanic eruption can come in such rapid succession that they create a signal called harmonic tremor. A new eruption analysis from Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano shows the harmonic tremor glided to higher frequencies, then stopped abruptly just before six eruptions in 2009.


May 13, 2013

Using earthquake sensors to track endangered whales

fin whale

Oceanographers are using a growing number of seafloor seismometers, devices that record seafloor vibrations, to carry out inexpensive and non-invasive studies of endangered whales.


December 3, 2012

Russian Far East holds seismic hazards that could threaten Pacific Basin

The 2009 eruption of Sarychev Peak in the Kuril Islands.

The Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands, long shrouded in secrecy by the Soviet government, are a seismic and volcanic hotbed with a potential to trigger tsunamis that pose a risk to the rest of the Pacific Basin.


November 29, 2011

$2M grant could make early earthquake warning a reality in the Northwest

The GPS component of an advanced seismometer sits atop Radar Ridge outside Astoria, Ore.  The installation is part of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

A grant to the University of Washington from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation could pave the way for a system to provide a warning seconds to minutes in advance of a major offshore earthquake in the Northwest.


August 19, 2010

Slow-moving ‘earthquake’ under Olympic Peninsula will be well recorded

UW seismologists have begun recording a slow-moving and unfelt seismic event under the Olympic Peninsula, and it promises to be the best-documented such event in the eight years since the regularly occurring phenomena were first discovered.