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Thousands of properties in Seattle are prone to landslides -- here's how to protect your home | KING 5
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
There are 20,000 properties considered to be prone to landslides in Seattle. The city is encouraging people to be aware of the risks. David Montgomery, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is interviewed. Read More
From the ice to the lab, glaciologists search for clues of BC's past wildfires, volcanoes and other calamities | The Globe and Mail
Monday, November 20, 2023
Eric Steig has spent more than 20 years on a quest to reveal the climate history recorded in British Columbia's southern glaciers. Eric Steig, professor and chair of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
In the Field: Tracking seismic clues in one of the driest places on Earth
Thursday, November 16, 2023
Unlike the Pacific Northwest, the Atacama Desert in Chile experiences very little rain. But the two regions are both seismically active. Faults in the Atacama Desert are slowly sliding past each other in a way similar to the Seattle Fault in Puget Sound and the San Andreas Fault in California. The Atacama Desert's lack of rain makes it easier to see how those gradual movements shape the landscape over time.
Alison Duvall, a University of Washington associate professor of Earth and space sciences, and doctoral student Tamara Ar?nguiz-Rago will travel to Chile this month to study landscapes developed along these types of faults. Duvall has previously studied historic landslides at the site of the rainfall-triggered Oso mudslide and how rainfall, earthquake and landslide risks combine in Oregon.
UW News asked the two geophysicists about their upcoming trip as part of a new series, "In the Field," highlighting UW field research.
Where are you going, and when?
Tamara Ar?nguiz-Rago: We will visit the Salar Grande, in the hyper-arid, or dry, core of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. The Salar is a dry lakebed that contains economic resources, in the form of salt, that is extracted from the basin and then exported around the world. We'll be there Nov. 19-25.Follow updates Nov. 19-25 on X at @tamaranguiz and @ARDuvall.
We're interested in this area because it's extremely dry and has active faults slicing through it. Only a few places on Earth register such low rates of precipitation, offering a landscape that stores climate and tectonic variations from the past 50 million years. At our field site, there are places that haven't seen a drop of rain in 500 years!
As a result, this is one of the best places on Earth to study how landscapes respond to earthquakes and plate tectonics under hyper-arid conditions. Dry conditions slow down erosion and help preserve landscape form and enable us to observe processes, like tectonic processes, that modify the surface from deeper down.
Have you visited this field site before?
TA: I visited this site last fall with Emma Heitmann, another doctoral student in the Department of Earth & Space Sciences.
Alison Duvall: This will be my first time to this site, to Chile and to South America.
What do you hope to learn there?
AD: We want to learn more about the dynamics of slow faults that move laterally -- strike-slip faults, similar to the San Andreas Fault in California -- and how these dynamics control the shape of the landscape. In wet places, it's hard to isolate faults' effects on the landscape since water is the main agent driving erosion. What we observe on the surface in other places is a combination of tectonics and surface processes. However, thanks to the aridity of this place, it is easier to be confident about what is changing the landscape.
We're also interested in how this landscape has shifted with a changing climate. This place was wetter in the past, and there is evidence of climate change happening to make the region hyper-arid. So we are also studying how the landscape has adapted to that change.
What's something that you enjoy about this field work -- especially something that might not occur to most people?
TA: There is a really special feeling when you're in the driest place on Earth. It almost feels like you're on a different planet. You don't see any signs of life -- no water, no animals, no plants -- but it's just amazing to feel that nothingness.
Changes in the landscape are so slow that when you visit the site, you know that each step you make, or any perturbation we make to collect our samples, can be one of the biggest modifications to the landscape in hundreds of years.
Anything you'd like to add?
AD: I'm super excited to get to this incredible field site and spend time with Tamara studying it. We have done field work together in New Zealand, and I have done decades' worth of field work in many different geomorphic settings, but never in a hyper-arid landscape like this one. I can't wait to see what we find!
UW researchers map landslides in Seattle Fault earthquake study | KING 5
Thursday, November 9, 2023
UW researchers published a study Tuesday that mapped and dated past landslides in the region to better understand historical earthquakes along the Seattle Fault. Eric Herzig, a doctoral student of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
Man accused of Antarctic assault was then sent to remote icefield with young graduate students | Associated Press
Monday, November 6, 2023
A man accused of physically assaulting a woman at a U.S. research station in Antarctica was then sent to a remote icefield where he was tasked with protecting the safety of a professor and three young graduate students, and he remained there for a full week after a warrant for his arrest was issued, documents obtained by The Associated Press show. Howard Conway, a research professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
On a BC glacier, researchers unearth climate history frozen in time | The Globe and Mail
Monday, November 6, 2023
Deep ice samples extracted from the glacier could help explain the string of climate-related events buffeting Western Canada. Eric Steig, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is mentioned. Read More
Sunday earthquake near Tacoma over 3.0 -- here's where it hit | Tacoma News Tribune
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Just weeks after a 4.3 magnitude earthquake rattled Puget Sound, some northwest Washington residents felt the ground beneath their feet shaking again Sunday night. Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
A rare and puzzling 'domino effect' triggered 4 powerful quakes in Afghanistan | National Geographic
Monday, October 23, 2023
A back-to-back sequence of four 6.3 magnitude earthquakes in just over a week has stunned scientists. Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse may be unavoidable, study finds | NBC News
Monday, October 23, 2023
The study is the first attempt to model the uncertain atmosphere and ocean processes that could doom the sheet's ice shelves, leading to considerable sea level rise. Eric Steig, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
ShakeAlert offers latest earthquake science as region practices Great ShakeOut safety drill Oct. 19
Thursday, October 19, 2023
As people and organizations across the globe practice earthquake drills Oct. 19 on International ShakeOut Day, closer to home in the Pacific Northwest, communities are bolstered by a state-of-the-art earthquake early warning system — and a research center that maintains the second-largest seismic network in the U.S. Read More