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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Brent Delbridge, ACMS and Physics, 2010-11 WRFF

Brent Delbridge photoAs an Applied Computational Mathematical Science and Physics Double major, I stumbled upon Seismology almost by accident. Prior to Fall 2009, my research had been limited to empirical data analysis methods for non-stationary and non-linear time series and Physics laboratory work, however that fall I begin working with Professor Heidi Houston on a recently observed and unexplained seismological phenomena called Episodic Tremor and Slip.  

This research has required me to combine my passion for Physics and Mathematics to tackle tangible problems relating to the motion of the Earth's plates, and the state of the Juan de Fuca seduction zone. I am motivated by the potential of this research to impact the seismic safety estimates for the Pacific Northwest as well as its potential to reveal new information about the basics physics of friction and Earthquake propagation. The Washington Research Fellowship Foundation has allowed me to push the boundaries of this research, and take the opportunity to fully explore all the facets of the project.

My work has been a balance of fieldwork for the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network's Array of Arrays experiment, data analysis and theoretical modeling.

When not fretting over the uniqueness of solutions, or writing code at his computer, I can be found reading, hiking, or biking. I plan on continuing this research, and attending graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in Geophysics.

Mentor: Heidi Houston, Earth & Space Sciences

Project Title: Identifying the Physical Mechanism of Episodic Tremor and Slip (ETS): Working towards a real-time stress indicator for prediction of a megatrust earthquake in the northwest

Abstract: Episodic Tremor and Slip is a recently discovered spatiotemporal correlation between subtle seismic signals, and slow slip events on subduction zones. The physics of these events are not well understood, however the process could hold valuable information regarding the seismic hazards addressing residents of Washington. ETS has the potential to act as a real-time indicator of stress loading in the Cascadia earthquake zone and help predict times of high probabilities for large earthquakes near Seattle. Further, understanding the character and locations of tremor epicenters could facilitate locating the locked segments of the Juan de Fuca plate, assisting seismic hazard officials by revealing how close to metropolitan areas these large earthquakes are likely to occur.

This study attempts to elucidate the physics of ETS through three separate but interconnected research components: analysis of tremor catalog data from the 2010 ETS episode which will be collected on the Olympic Peninsula this summer; comparison of previous research results to theoretical slip models; and further theoretical development of a new tremor propagation model.