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Earthquakes annually claim hundreds of lives and cause major damage to cities and infrastructures. Recent large (M 8.8 in Chile, 2010; M 9.1 in Japan, 2011) as well as moderate-size devastating events (M 6.3 in New Zealand, 2010) are forceful reminders that earthquakes cannot be predicted, and may hit at any time, at any place. However, we can prepare for the expected shaking levels and potential secondary effects (tsunamis, landslides, liquefaction) by investigating the physics of earthquake rupture, by studying seismic wave propagation in the Earth crust, and by finding innovative methods to quantify the seismic hazard.

We conduct fundamental research to study earthquake source physics and ground-motion generation, with the goal to gain insight into earthquake properties and to create new computational tools for seismic-shaking estimation for earthquake-engineering applications. The eQuake-RC site is borne out of our quest to collect and disseminate data and resources for earthquake science, and to provide an online collaboration platform for earthquake source inversion validation. We also distribute a number of computer codes: for generating realistic rupture models for ground-motion simulations or stress calculations; for broadband ground-motion computations; for computing statics stress change on the fault due to slip on the same fault.

The overarching research themes that we currently work on are:

  • Kinematic source imaging using Bayesian methods, and uncertainty quantification in earthquake source inversion in general
  • Dynamic earthquake rupture modeling, with heterogeneity in initial stress, fault geometry, Earth structure, to develop more realistic source models for ground-motion simulations
  • Seismic wave propagation in 3D heterogeneous Earth, to study the seismic scattering properties of the Earth crust and its effects on ground-motion variability.
These topics are embedded in our goal to improve ground-motion prediction for earthquake-engineering purposes, using physics-based approaches and numerical simulation tools.

Some of our most recent research publications (submitted, under revision, in press) and relevant conference presentations are listed below:

Journal Papers
Near-field ground-motion simulation including 3D seismic scattering, Imperatori, W., and P.M. Mai, Geophys. J. Int. (Accepted)   [PDF, 4.5MB]
The seismic cycle at subduction thrust faults: 1. Insights from laboratory models, Corbi, F., F. Funiciello , M. Moroni, Y. van Dinther, P.M. Mai, L.A. Dalguer, and C. Faccena, revised for Geophys. Res. (to appear fall 2012)   [PDF, 4.5MB]
The seismic cycle at subduction thrust faults: 2. Dynamic implications of geodynamic simulations benchmarked with laboratory models, van Dinther, Y., T.V. Gerya, F. Corbi, L.A. Dalguer, F. Funiciello, and P.M. Mai , revised for Geophys. Res. (to appear fall 2012)   [PDF, 1.3MB]
Macroscopic Source Properties From Dynamic Rupture Simulations with Off-Fault Plasticity, Gabriel, A.A., J.P. Ampuero, L.A. Dalguer, and P.M. Mai, Geophys. Res. Lett. (Submitted)   [PDF, 1.2MB]

Conference Presentations (posters and talks)
Constraints on strong ground motion from complex dynamic rupture simulations in elastic and plastic media, Gabriel, A.A., Ampuero, J-P, Mai, P.M., Dalguer, L.A., Talk at the 2012 SSA General Assembly, San Diego, 17–19 April, 2012
Uncertainty Quantification of Kinematic Source Parameters using a Bayesian Approach, Razafindrakoto, H, and Mai, P.M., Poster at the EGU General Assembly 2012, Geophysical Research Abstracts. 2012;14:EGU2012-10383
Receiver-Functions analysis using SGS broadband data to examine Moho-depths and a hypothesized magma chamber in Saudi Arabia, Cui, Z. and P.M. Mai, Poster at the Seventh Gulf Seismic Forum, Jan 22-25, 2012, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Transition and macroscopic source properties of dynamic rupture styles, Gabriel, A.A., Jean-Paul Ampuero, P.M. Mai, and Luis A. Dalguer, Talk at 2011 ESF Workshop Continuing Challenges in Earthquake Dynamics, Obergurgl, Austria, 24-29 September, 2011.
The long-term seismic cycle at subduction thrusts: benchmarking geodynamic numerical simulations and analogue models, van Dinther, Y., Gerya, T., Corbi, F., Funiciello, F., Mai, P. M., and Dalguer, L. A., Talk at the Swiss Geoscience Meeting, Zurich, Switzerland, November 2011.