EARTHQUAKES | Meet the Researcher: Kerry Sieh | Ep #6 | AXA Research Fund

EARTHQUAKES | Meet the Researcher: Kerry Sieh | Ep #6 | AXA Research Fund


Tell me more about your research. What I do is paleoseismology. So, I look at earthquakes
in the past. And those ancient earthquakes tell me
how an individual fault behaves. So, does it produce
small earthquakes? Does it produce large earthquakes? Then I can actually inform
the communities nearby, “Here’s what you should expect, and here’s how often
you should expect it”. This is an old river valley
that has sustained many breaks along a fault, maybe 15 or so in 15,000 years. And each time it breaks,
seismic waves radiate out and they create earthquakes. So, underneath our feet right now, that force is building
and building and building, and then at some point, “bang”. If this little fault moved,
right now, the shaking here would be so strong,
that we would not be able to stand. We’d be bouncing around
on the ground. Think about the energy
that is released when you move that much rock
over a matter of a few seconds, it’s an enormous amount of energy, far more than
an atomic weapon, for example. What gets you up in the morning
to do this research? I do this because I really want to
understand how the Earth works. Why do earthquakes happen? Why do they happen where they happen? How often do they happen? What’s been their impact
on past societies? Why does this earthquake fault
produce a tsunami, and how big would it be? So I think, primarily,
I’m motivated by curiosity. Out of that curiosity comes discovery that ends up making the world
a safer place.

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