CSUEB Partnering with USGS to Create Earthquake Map
A CSUEB professor and student are part of an effort to measure and study how the ground responds to earthquakes in specific areas
A week before the anniversary of the 6.0 South Napa earthquake that killed one woman and left dozens injured in 2014, Cal State East Bay senior Jennie Bahramian and geology Professor Luther Strayer will be helping scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey visualize and map the subsurface in and around the city of Napa. The work, which begins Aug. 17, is part of an effort to measure and study how the ground responds to earthquakes in different neighborhoods along Bay Area faults, including the Chabot and Hayward faults that run through the CSUEB campus.
"The Napa earthquake shook the area more than was predicted by the available models for the Napa valley," Strayer said. "This work we are doing with the USGS is designed to allow us to better understand the distribution and geometry of the sediments and volcanics that both fill and bound the Napa Valley. It will allow us to better predict future ground shaking."
Bahramian used to be afraid of earthquakes. Growing up in Iran and attending high school in Kathmandu, Nepal, she only ever heard about quakes or saw the destruction after they had occurred, and it was always terrifying.
That is, until she started learning more about them and about what scientists are doing to prepare communities like Hayward for the next inevitable shake.
"An earthquake by itself is not bad, it's the building that gets destroyed and kills people," Bahramian said. "If you can understand it and you can understand what's going on below, you can take safety measures and be prepared."
Bahramian, Strayer and the others will be placing hundreds of small portable seismographs along lines that cross the West Napa Fault zone. Data gathered will then be used to create a 3-D model that eventually will help that community and others prepare for earthquakes.
Strayer said the work Bahramian and other students throughout the summer and fall are doing is giving them hands on experience that will help them find permanent employment after graduation.
"Some of the research we do is inaccessible to the students because of its complexity, but the other work we do is local and related to the field, allowing our students to get into the field and become experts in the local geology," he said.
This isn't the first time Strayer has employed the help of his students. When he oversaw the implosion of Warren Hall in 2013, he said he learned to ask students if they'd be interested. Several were and worked with the USGS as interns, later going on to related careers.
"It's work that allows them to be mentored by (USGS scientists) and that's the beauty of the relationship with the survey," he said. "They're doing real, very pure, primary research and we're pretty lucky to be involved."