News & Events


Large Variations in Shaking in Los Angeles Basin


Using data from a network of 500 seismic stations across the Los Angels basin, researchers have revealed areas where the amplification of shaking in high-rise buildings is greatest. "We thought the amplifications would be south of downtown LA, but we didn’t see that,” says Monica Kohler, Research Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. “We saw them elsewhere, where the basin is not deep, in West LA and the San Fernando Valley." Each building shakes differently during an earthquake. Studying those differences will help to improve building codes and practices and potentially save lives. [Caltech Science Exchange] [SSA story] [Wired story] [Temblor story]

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Tags: MCE Kanianthra Mani Chandy Thomas Heaton Monica Kohler Filippos Filippitzis

Preparing for Earthquakes with ShakeAlert


United States Geological Survey (USGS) has announced an approximately $4 million in awards to Caltech, University of California Berkeley, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon, for the expansion and improvement of the ShakeAlert, an earthquake early-warning system. "Caltech's role in ShakeAlert will focus on research and development of the system so that future versions will be faster and more reliable," said Professor Thomas Heaton. "We currently collect data from approximately 400 seismic stations throughout California. The USGS grant will allow Caltech to upgrade or install new stations in strategic locations that will significantly improve the performance of ShakeAlert." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Thomas Heaton

An Earthquake Warning System in Our Pockets?


Thomas H. Heaton, Professor of Engineering Seismology, and colleagues’ recent study suggests that all of our phones and other personal electronic devices could function as a distributed network, detecting any ground movements caused by a large earthquake, and, ultimately, giving people crucial seconds to prepare for a temblor. "Thirty years ago it took months to assemble a crude picture of the deformations from an earthquake. This new technology promises to provide a near-instantaneous picture with much greater resolution," says Professor Heaton. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Thomas Heaton