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The Seismological Laboratory is a modern geophysical observatory that emphasizes the acquisition, analysis, and modeling of data pertaining to the structure and dynamics of the earth as well as other planetary bodies. This data originates from many sources including regional and global seismic networks, in-house analytic facilities (for example, high pressure mineral physics), oceanic research cruises, remote sensing (GPS, interferometric radar, Landsat, etc.), and geologic field mapping. Current Seismo Lab research incorporates all aspects of geophysics and earthquake geology including, but not limited to, regional crustal structure, the physics of earthquakes, the structure, chemistry, and convective flow of the earth's interior, oceanic and continental tectonics, and lithospheric deformation.
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A wide range of research in Earth structure is carried out in the Seismo Lab. Scientists are actively mapping out the structure of the Earth's interior at all depths, including the crust, mantle, and core.
The Seismo Lab takes a multidisciplinary approach to earthquake science with strong collaborative efforts involving various groups. Our scientists have pioneered the imaging of the earthquake rupture process and we continue to advance our ability to observe and model the entire seismic cycle. We have focused efforts in observational, theoretical, and computational seismology, Geodesy (GPS and satellite imaging techniques), and integrated physical modeling.
Understanding the ground motions in large earthquakes and their effects on buildings is a central theme in engineering seismology. Caltech is also a leader in developing real-time alerting systems to provide organizations (e.g. utilities, railroads, Caltrans) with tools that allow them to respond effectively during an earthquake crisis. In addition, Caltech researchers are developing innovative new networking technologies to continuously record the dynamic vibrations of buildings.
Efforts in the geodynamics research in the Seismo Lab include the development of advanced numerical models of tectonic processes constrained by geological and geophysical observations. In particular, the use of such models to provide a physical basis for interpretation of seismological observations made on local, regional, and global scales. Our development of geodynamic models is being coordinated through forward and backward numerical simulations.
Marine Geophysics is the survey of the oceans using gravity, magnetics, swath bathymetry, and seismic reflection profiling to address problems of tectonic evolution of the oceanic plates and their boundaries.
Researchers in mineral physics use diamond-anvil cells, infrared lasers, and shock waves to simulate the extreme pressures and temperatures within planets to discover the elastic, vibrational, and structural properties of the materials that exist from the crust to the core.
Seismic, geodetic, and space-based observations, coupled with numerical modeling are used to determine the physics of tectonic processes in the Seismo Lab. This research is conducted in many places around the world, including Mexico, South America, western Pacific and Asia, as well as in southern California. The research is often done in conjunction with the Tectonics Observatory at Caltech.
The Computational Geophysics Group at Caltech's Seismological Laboratory is working on developing and improving various physical models as well as computational techniques for modeling earthquake source processes and seismic wave propagation with high accuracy. These studies involve large computations that are performed on the "Beowulf" PC cluster.