For more than 10 years, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology and the Seismological Society of America are proud to offer fascinating non-technical presentations on seismology-related topics to general audiences across the US through its IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lectureship Program. Each speaker is an expert in his/her specific research area and is skilled in effectively communicating new and exciting findings to the public. Lectures are typically presented at science museums, universities or similar settings as part of the venues’ established speaker series. Up to two IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lecturers are selected each calendar year (depending on funding) with each scientist presenting 3-6 lectures.
NOTE: In some cases, Department seminars may be scheduled in conjunction with a Public Lecture.
For more information, please contact:Perle Dorr
IRIS Education and Outreach Program
Dr. Stephen McNutt
School of Geosciences,
University of South Florida,
Stephen (Steve) R. McNutt is a volcano seismologist who worked half time for the Alaska Volcano Observatory from 1991-2012. He currently coordinates volcano seismology research for the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida. His research interests include studies of source and propagation effects for volcanic tremor, low-frequency events, and explosion earthquakes; volcanic hazards assessments in Alaska, California, and Central America; the mechanical behavior of volcanoes including periodicity of eruptions; the effects of earth tides, sea level variations, and tectonic stresses on triggering eruptive activity; volcanic infrasound; and volcanic lightning. From July 1999 to July 2007 he served as Secretary General for the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior. He has served on several committees for the National Academy of Sciences, including the US National Committee for International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, the US National Committee for the Pacific Science Association, and the standing Committee on Seismology and Geodynamics. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1977, his M.A. from Columbia University in 1982, and his Ph.D. in volcanology from Columbia University in 1985.
Shaking and Baking: Using Seismology to Study Volcanoes
Seismology is used to study volcanoes in several ways. Seismic tomography, similar to medical tomography, is used to probe beneath volcanoes for their velocity and attenuation structure. This reveals the size, shape and location of bodies of molten rock underground, such as magma chambers and conduits. Models have become more detailed over the years as techniques and data have improved.
One result of such studies is a model of the structure of the volcano. The model then provides a conceptual pathway to interpret the seismic activity that occurs prior to eruptions. A common pattern is an increase first in volcano-tectonic earthquakes caused by increasing pressure in the magma chamber communicated to faults in the rocks nearby. This is followed by low-frequency earthquakes, which are likely related to fluid processes involving magma or water and gases. Third, a continuous signal known as volcanic tremor occurs when magma reaches shallow levels near the vent. Explosions and strong eruption tremor are associated with the eruption. Deep earthquakes sometimes occur as stresses readjust after the removal of magma. Such patterns, together with understanding of physics, have enabled successful forecasts of eruptions over a range of sizes and types.
The strength and character of some eruption seismic signals also provides clues to make near-real time assessments of eruptions while they are in progress. For example, the strength of eruption tremor is proportional to the height of the ash column. Lava fountaining from fissures makes stronger tremor than fountaining of the same height from cylindrical conduits. Magma with more gases makes stronger seismic signals and more fine ash, which can influence the amount of volcanic lightning!
These are the types of questions that Professor McNutt will explore as he discusses how the movement of magma causes volcano shaking and baking.
Dr. John Vidale
Professor, Director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and Washington State SeismologistCurriculum Vitae
Department of Earth and Space Sciences,
University of Washington,
John Vidale is a Professor at the University of Washington, Director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and the Washington State Seismologist. He completed his undergraduate studies at Yale University and earned his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. Before finally coming to Seattle and the University of Washington in 2006, Vidale worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the US Geological Survey, and taught for a decade at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While at UCLA, he was Director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. His honors include the American Geophysical Union's Macelwane Medal (1994) and being named American Geophysical Union's Gutenberg lecturer in 2009. The College of the Environment at the University of Washington named Vidale the 2011 Researcher of the Year. Vidale’s research focuses on earthquakes, volcanoes, Earth structure, and the hazards of strong shaking. Professor Vidale is currently working on monitoring the earthquakes and volcanoes in Oregon and Washington, studying strange slow earthquakes and landsliding in earthquakes.
A Tale of Three Pacific Northwest Temblors: One Big, One Deep and One Direct Hit
Sudden mayhem. Tremendous impact. Unpredictable disruption. Is it any wonder earthquakes reserve a dark corner in our nightmares?
The Pacific Northwest is vulnerable to several shades of shakes:
- giant coastal quakes,
- isolated, miles-deep pops, and
- rips that could tear Seattle’s downtown apart.
The University of Washington’s M9 Project, led by John Vidale, is making the repercussions of each type of quake clearer—and both less and more frightening. Vidale will share the latest research and prognoses, and offer insights on implementing early warning technologies in the Pacific Northwest, so we can gain a few seconds or even minutes before suffering the strongest shaking.
2017 Lecture Series Schedule
|January 27, 2017 7:00PM||Dr. John Vidale||A Tale of Three Pacific Northwest Temblors: One Big, One Deep and One Direct Hit||Southwestern Oregon Community College|
|October 21, 2017 7:00PM||Dr. Stephen McNutt||Shaking and Baking: Using Seismology to Study Volcanoes||Southwestern Oregon Community College|
Distinguished Lectureship Archive 2003 - 2016
|2016||Dr. Justin Rubinstein||Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes|
|2016||Dr. Caroline Beghein||From Plate Tectonics to Deep Earth Dynamics: A Seismological Journey Inside the Earth|
|2015||Dr. Thorne Lay||A Global Surge of Great Earthquakes and What We are Learning From Them|
|2015||Dr. Doug Wiens||Fire and Ice: Volcanoes, Earth Structure, and the Evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet|
|2014||Dr. Meredith Nettles||Glacial Earthquakes: Using Seismic and GPS Observations to Map Changes in Glaciers and Ice Sheets Worldwide|
|2014||Dr. Jean-Paul Ampuero||Earth's Cocktail Party: Deciphering the Physics of Earthquakes With Networks of Seismic Arrays|
|2013||Dr. Lara Wagner||Imaging the Ancient Margin: How the Southeastern United States Was Built (And Why You Should Care)|
|2013||Dr. Gavin Hayes||Mitigating Disasters: Earthquake Response in the 21st Century|
|2012||Dr. Miaki Ishii||Dissecting Giant Earthquakes: Things We Didn't Know|
|2012||Dr. Gregory Beroza||The Tortoise and the Hare: Slow vs Fast Earthquakes|
|2011||Dr. Wayne D. Pennington||Preparing for the Future: Scientific and Humanitarian Lessons from the Haiti and Japan earthquakes|
|2011||Dr. Beatrice Magnani||The New Madrid Earthquakes Two Hundred Years Later: What Have We Learned About Earthquakes at the Center of Tectonic Plates?|
|2010||Dr. Brian Stump||Forensic Seismology and Nucler Testing: The Detective Work of Seismologists|
|2010||Dr. Stephen Malone||Predicting Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions: What Can and Can't Now Be Done|
|2009||Dr. Aaron A. Velasco||Can a Large Earthquake in Another Country Cause One in Your Backyard?|
|2009||Dr. Richard C. Aster||Taking Earth's Pulse and Temperature Using Seismology: Roaring Oceans and Singing Icebergs|
|2008||Dr. Cliff Frohlich||Deep Earthquakes and the Secret of Seismology|
|2008||Dr. Uri ten Brink||Peace and Science in the Middle East|
|2007||Dr. Anne Sheehan||Seeing Beneath Mt. Everest: Probing a Breeding Ground of Destructive Earthquakes|
|2007||Dr. Brian Atwater||The Orphan Tsunami of 1700 - A Trans-Pacific Detective Story|
|2006||Dr. Mary Lou Zoback||The 1906 Earthquake - Lessons Learned, Lessons Forgotten, and Future Directions|
|2006||Dr. Ed Garnero||Vibrations From the Deep: Deciphering the Birth and Death of the Earth's Surface|
|2006||Dr. Seth Stein||Giant Earthquakes: Why, Where, When, and What We Can Do|
|2005||Dr. Michael Wysession||Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and a Modern Journey to the Center of the Earth|
|2005||Dr. Susan Hough||The Very Long Reach of Very Large Earthquakes|
|2004||Dr. David E. James||Revealing the Mysteries of the Earth's Deep Interior: Plates, Plumes, and the Birth of Modern Seismology|
|2004||David Wald||Rapid Earthquake Information: Citizen Science and New Tools for Emergency Response|
|2003||Dr. Roger Bilham||Death and Construction: Earthquakes on an Urban Planet|
|2003||Dr. Walter Mooney||The Discovery of the Earth: The Quest to Understand the Interior of our Planet|