Research Projects

Slip Map Project Sumatran Plate Boundary Project map MesoAmerican Subduction Experiment map south america map
Source Models Sumatran Plate MesoAmerican Subduction Central Andean

Dynamics Tawian Tectonincs and Seismicity map inod asia collision zone illustration west US map
Dynamics of Fault Slip Taiwan Tectonics and Seismicity Indo-Asian Collision Zone Western US Dynamics

Caltech's Tectonics Observatory (TO) brings together an interdisciplinary team of Caltech faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral research associates, and visitors in the areas of field-based geology, numerical modeling, remote sensing with satellite-based instruments, and laboratory analysis.

TO science focuses on geological processes that occur at the boundaries of Earth's tectonic plates, ranging from the sudden rupture of earthquakes (tens of seconds) to the slow formation of mountains (tens of millions of years).

Source Models of Large Earthquakes
- rapid estimation of slip maps for many recent large earthquakes (Mw>7)

Sumatran Plate Boundary
- multi-disciplinary effort to understand tectonic processes at a plate boundary dominated by the oblique convergence of oceanic and continental plates

MesoAmerican Subduction Experiment (MASE) - construction of a dynamical (numerical) model of the subduction process that matches the variety of subduction scenarios present in the Central America subduction zone

Central Andean Tectonic Observatory (CAnTO) - collaborative project that focuses on the dynamics of the South American subduction zone, a region that spans the source area of a high percentage of the world's largest earthquakes and tsunamis, hundreds of active volcanoes, and the presently rising Andean mountain range

Dynamics of fault slip - integrates theory, computational modeling, and laboratory experiments with multi-disciplinary observations of fault slip phenomena ranging from large subduction earthquakes to slow slip and tremor

Taiwan Tectonics and Seismicity
- uses this exceptional area to investigate mountain building processes over time scales ranging from the seconds of an earthquake to millions of years of an orogeny. It is also an ultimate place to investigate both the transition from subduction to collision and from collision to collapse

Indo-Asian Collision Zone - case study to address the question of a need for some simple models relating crustal deformation and seismicity that would provide some physical basis to help assess the frequency and size of major earthquakes

Western US Dynamics - collaborative project focused on the formation and underlying dynamics of anomalous high-density structures suspended in the mantle underlying the western US. Do they come from portions of the overlying continental plate "dripping" off? Are they dangling remnants of old, subducted, oceanic plates?

Research Highlights - for general audiences

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Tectonics Observatory