Scientist gains fresh insight into the origins of earthquakes

earthquak
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Sometimes barely noticeable, and at other times devasting, earthquakes are a major geological phenomenon which provide a stark reminder that our planet is constantly evolving. Scientists have made significant progress in understanding these events over the past 50 years thanks to sensors set up around the world. And while we know that earthquakes are caused by shifts in tectonic plates, a lot remains to be learned about how and why they occur.


Passelègue, a scientist at ENAC’s Laboratory of Experimental Rock Mechanics (LEMR), has been studying the dynamics of faults—or the areas between tectonic plates, where most earthquakes occur—for the past ten years. He recently made a breakthrough in understanding the rupture mechanisms that eventually lead to seismic shifts along fault lines. His findings were published in the prestigious Nature Communications on 12 October 2020.

“We know that rupture speeds can vary from a few millimeters

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Research may curb economic losses to power plants after earthquakes — ScienceDaily

Sitting atop power transformers are wavy shaped bushing systems that play a critical role in supplying communities with electricity. However, these objects are also susceptible to breaking during earthquakes. Once damaged, bushings can cause widespread outages and burden the state with expensive repairs.

In a recent study, Texas A&M University researchers have shown that during high seismic activity, the structural integrity of bushing systems can be better maintained by reinforcing their bases with steel stiffeners. Also, by using probability-based loss assessment studies, they found that the economic burden due to damage to bushing systems from earthquakes is up to 10 times lower for steel-reinforced transformer bushing systems compared to other bushing configurations.

“Transformer bushing systems are vital to electrical substation networks, and these components are especially vulnerable in high-seismic regions, like in California or parts of the northeast,” said Dr. Maria Koliou, assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil

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