Researchers Help Legislators Visualize Earthquake Risks

June 6, 2018
Author: Sarah Nightingale
June 6, 2018

While we can’t predict when a big earthquake will occur in California, we can be prepared.

Armed with 3D-printed maps of California’s faults, UCR’s Christos Kyriakopoulos, a researcher in earth sciences, and David Oglesby, professor and chair of the Department of Earth Sciences, recently attended a congressional hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in Huntington Beach.

“We used our 3D printed faults model to elucidate the complexity of the fault system in California,” said Kyriakopoulos. “The geometry of the faults is based on a model by the U.S. Geological Survey known as UCERF3. The aim was to show that, contrary to common misconceptions, there is a dense network of faults surrounding major structures like the San Andreas Fault.”

Christos Kyriakopoulos standing near display with Mark Takano.
Christos Kyriakopoulos, a researcher in earth sciences, explaining the complexity of California faults to Congressman Mark Takan

The meeting was part of an effort by lawmakers to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, which leads the federal government’s efforts to reduce the fatalities, injuries, and property losses caused by earthquakes.

“This initiative is hugely important, not just in terms of support for our own earthquake research program here at UCR, but for earthquake safety nationwide,” Oglesby said.

The scientists were invited by Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), who represents California’s 41st Congressional District, which includes Riverside. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) were also at the hearing. The committee members were each given smaller, take-home versions of the 3D-printed faults mounted to foam backing.

“The representatives in attendance had never seen this type of physical representation of faults before, so it really made a strong impression,” Oglesby said

UCR’s participation in the congressional hearing was organized by Kaitlin Chell, director of federal relations in UCR’s Office of Governmental and Community Relations.