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Student Spotlight

Ph.D. Student Profile: Pamela Moyer

Degree: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Earth Sciences, Geology and Geophysics Group

Research Topic: Earthquake source parameters, rupture processes, and scaling relations at mid-ocean ridge transform faults and microseismicity in deep South African gold mines

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Boettcher

Pamela Moyer
Description of Research

The motivation for my research is to better understand earthquake sources and faulting processes in different tectonic environments.  My project involves the comprehensive examination and comparison of earthquake source parameters such as apparent stress, seismic moment, and radiated seismic energy for small to large magnitude earthquakes at the Gofar mid‐ocean ridge transform fault (RTF) on the East Pacific Rise (EPR) and microseismicity in the TauTona gold mine in South Africa.

At the EPR Gofar transform fault, thousands of earthquakes have been recorded by ocean bottom seismometers (OBS), including the foreshock and aftershock sequences of a predictable magnitude 6.0 mainshock.  Using data from the OBS, I will investigate differences between earthquakes sources in the foreshock and aftershock regions and along the ruptured fault segment where variations in fault‐zone material are thought to produce rupture barriers that control earthquake propagation.

At the TauTona gold mine, thousands of microearthquakes with a magnitude range between -4 to 4 are recorded by seismometers placed in tunnels 2 to 4 km below the Earth’s surface.  Using these high-quality recordings, I will investigate variations in source parameters with earthquake magnitude, source type, and proximity to geologic and mining structures such as faults, dikes, and tunnels.

The results of my research will help describe the rupture processes of very small to large earthquakes and address such issues as variations in source parameters for earthquakes that occur on and off geologic structures, earthquake scaling, and constraints on earthquake energy budgets, nucleation, and rupture.  These projects are done in collaboration with partners at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the University of Southern California (USC).

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