2018 IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lecturers

Dr. Katie Keranen

Assistant Professor
Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences,
Cornell University,
Ithaca, New York

Induced Earthquakes: Experimenting Unintentionally

Curriculum Vitae

Katie Keranen is an assistant professor at Cornell University. Keranen wants to understand how the world works, and to that end, studies earthquakes, volcanoes, and plate motion to understand deformation of the earth at slow and rapid rates. Keranen has a BS from Michigan Technological University, a PhD from Stanford University, and completed postdoctoral research with the USGS Geological Survey.  Before arriving at Cornell, Keranen was an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, and began studying induced seismicity when her house began shaking.

Induced earthquakes are triggered by humans, either by injecting fluid into the ground, extracting it, or impounding it behind dams. Induced earthquakes have occurred for a century, but in the past decade have become more prevalent in locations such as Oklahoma than natural earthquakes along most plate boundaries. These earthquakes create a new hazard and bring public attention, but they also create opportunities to study earthquake processes at atypical rates. Here, I discuss the sudden rise in induced seismicity, the relationship to oil and gas production including wastewater disposal and hydraulic fracturing, mitigation efforts, and new scientific advances made possible by this unintended experiment.

Date Venue

Dr. Frederik Simons

Department of Geosciences,
Princeton University,
Princeton, New Jersey

Through the Ocean to the Mantle: Under the Seas with a Fleet of Floating Seismic Robots

Curriculum Vitae

Frederik Simons is a geophysicist at Princeton University. Usually from the safety of his office, he analyzes data from digital global seismic networks to study the physical properties of the interior of the solid Earth, and from gravity satellite missions to weigh the ice sheets melting off its surface. To help increase seismic station coverage around the globe, he has been leaving his comfort zone by prototyping floating earthquake recorders in the oceans, and is now promoting the next big push in earth observation through the international initiative "EarthScope-Oceans". Simons joined the Princeton faculty in 2006. He is also an Associated Faculty member in the Program in Applied & Computational Mathematics and serves on the Executive Committee of the Program in Archaeology. Between 2010 and 2013, Simons was the Dusenbury University Preceptor of Geological & Geophysical Sciences. Previously, he was a Lecturer at University College London, a Princeton Council of Science & Technology Beck Fellow and a Department of Geosciences Hess Post-doctoral Fellow. Simons received a Ph.D. in Geophysics from M.I.T. and his M.Sc. in Geology from the KU Leuven in Belgium, of which he is a native. 

In the last few decades, seismologists have mapped the Earth's interior (crust, mantle, and core) in ever increasing detail. Natural earthquakes, the sources of energy used to probe the Earth's inside via seismic computerized tomography, occur mostly on tectonic plate boundaries. Seismometers, the receivers of earthquake wave motion, are located mostly on dry land. Such fundamentally inadequate 'source-receiver' coverage leaves large volumes inside the Earth entirely unexplored. Here be dragons! Placing seismic stations on the ocean bottom is among the solutions practiced successfully today. But there are exciting alternatives. Enter MERMAID: a fully autonomous marine instrument that travels deep below the ocean surface, recording seismic activity (and marine environmental data), and then reporting it by surfacing for satellite data transmission. This presentation will discuss a century of Earth imaging, a decade of instrument design and development, and the challenging – and wet – places that our scientific journey has taken us.

Date Venue