Taxonomy term


Mercury's recent tectonics revealed

Not so long ago, Mercury was the least-studied planet in the inner solar system, known only from Earth-based observations and from Mariner 10’s brief flyby in the 1970s. In 2011, the MESSENGER spacecraft began orbiting Mercury, imaging the planet’s crater- and fault-scarred surface before crashing into it, as planned, in 2015. As MESSENGER spiraled downward, it took a last series of high-resolution images, analyses of which are revealing new information about the planet’s surface geology, including evidence for recent tectonic activity.

05 Jan 2017

Scientists find earthquakes trigger instantaneous aftershocks on neighboring faults

Earthquake aftershocks may be more unpredictable than previously thought. Researchers studying past quakes say they have identified a new class of aftershocks that can occur within seconds to minutes after the mainshock on neighboring faults.

29 Dec 2016

Lack of afterslip in Nepal hints at mounting tensions

On April 25, 2015, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, northwest of Kathmandu, damaging much of the capital city, flattening surrounding villages and killing more than 8,000 people. The quake’s hypocenter was relatively shallow, only 15 kilometers below ground on a fault that’s part of the Main Himalayan Thrust. Yet the displacement didn’t rupture all the way to the surface, indicating that only part of the fault slipped. Now, in a new study looking at how the fault continued to move following the 2015 event, researchers have found that the shallower section of the fault is likely still locked — and potentially loaded for another earthquake.

02 Oct 2016

Modeling Io’s weird mountains

Jupiter’s innermost moon, Io, is home to some of the strangest mountains in our solar system: towering isolated peaks, some more than 8,000 meters tall, that jut from the moon’s surface with little evidence of underlying tectonics. Now, a new model may explain how Io’s odd peaks formed.

30 Aug 2016

Earthquakes can jump long distances

Earthquakes are known to “jump” from one fault to another, with the ground ­shaking from one rupture triggering movement on nearby faults. However, evidence for earthquake transference between faults separated by more than a few kilometers has been scarce. Now, researchers looking at two closely timed earthquakes that struck Pakistan in 1997 suggest that earthquakes can jump between faults more than 50 kilometers apart, a finding that may have implications for hazard projections in Southern California and elsewhere.

04 Jul 2016

Buried sands tell of tsunami hazard from creeping megathrust fault

A slow-moving portion of the Alaska-Aleutian Mega­thrust Fault near Alaska’s Dutch Harbor appears more capable of generating sizable tsunamis than previously thought, according to a new study.

20 May 2016

The most dangerous fault in America

Running through densely populated cities like Oakland, Fremont and Berkeley, Calif., and not far from San Francisco, San Jose and Silicon Valley is a dangerous fault that could rupture at any time. It’s known as the Hayward Fault, and when it goes, it will likely produce a devastating earthquake.

18 May 2016

Downgoing plate topography stopped 2005 Sumatra rupture

In late March 2005, a magnitude-8.7 earthquake struck off the northwest coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, rupturing a portion of the Sunda Megathrust Fault and further terrorizing a region still reeling from the devastating 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami just three months prior. The March quake, however, could have been far larger than it was, according to new research. Scientists have identified a topographic barrier on the oceanic Indo-Australian Plate — which descends under the Sunda Plate in the Sumatra Subduction Zone — that may have stopped the 2005 rupture from propagating farther.

04 Apr 2016

Hidden double earthquake spells trouble for tsunami-warning systems

On Jan. 2, 2011, a magnitude-7.1 earthquake was recorded striking central Chile along the tectonic boundary between the Nazca and South American plates. Shaking from the quake was felt hundreds of kilometers from the epicenter, but no deaths or major damage were reported.
06 Mar 2016

Scarps and craters reveal moon's dynamic side

During their 1972 mission to the moon, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt tried to ascend a steep rise in the lunar rover. The rover could not make it, so the pair drove up the incline in a zigzag pattern. The rise, it was later found, is the lobate scarp of a lunar thrust fault — one of many such features that, thanks to detailed images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), are now known to occur across the moon’s surface. In a new study, researchers suggest these faults were formed by the same gravitational forces that cause the rise and fall of tides on Earth.

19 Feb 2016