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Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Making earthquakes in the lab

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, scientists are figuring out how to forecast an earthquake: they have developed simulations and physical experiments to represent the structure and dynamics of geological faults.
May 15, 2015
Making earthquakes in the lab

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At Los Alamos National Laboratory, scientists are figuring out how to do what no one can do: forecast an earthquake. A team of Los Alamos scientists including Drew Geller, Scott Backhaus and Robert Ecke have developed simulations and physical experiments, such as the one pictured above, to represent the structure and dynamics of geological faults. In so doing, they have demonstrated a mechanism by which earthquakes can influence the triggering of other earthquakes. This image, captured by a camera with a polarizing lens, shows the buildup of stress created as the far (upper) “tectonic” plate slides laterally along the modeled fault line.

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