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Estimating fault slip rates in the Cascadia region of North America using joint geologic-geodetic block modeling


Jun 3, 2021

Richard Styron, GEM hazard team, was recently invited to present at the Seismological Society of America (SSA) Conference held in April on the ongoing collaborative research between GEM, Natural Resources Canada, and other scientists to study earthquake faults in the northwestern US and western Canada.

The authors of the conference paper were Richard Styron, Tiegan Hobbs (Natural Resources Canada), Zach Lifton (Idaho Geological Survey), Nick Harrichhausen (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Murray Journeay (Natural Resources Canada).

The project uses a software program developed by Richard called Oiler, that estimates the long-term movement of faults and corresponding production of earthquakes. Oiler uses geodetic (mostly global positioning system or GPS) measurements of the movement of tectonic plates, as well as geologic data such as geologic mapping and paleoseismic studies, to solve for the slip rate (and therefore earthquake production rate) of all faults within a fault network.

For this project, the researchers used existing fault data augmented with some new mapping in the US, and completely new mapping of possibly-active faulting in Canada, to build the fault network. Over the next year or two, the researchers hope to be able to incorporate all of this data into a comprehensive database of seismically active faults in order to evaluate the earthquake potential of previously-unstudied faults in western Canada and the northwestern US.

Watch Richard’s SSA presentation here. [VIDEO LINK]

About #SSA2021

Held on 19–23 April 2021, the virtual SSA Annual Meeting featured more than 750 technical presentations, including sessions co-sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Seismological Commission and the Seismological Society of China. For more about SSA, visit

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