Earthquake Geology & Paleoseismologyon March 13, 2009 at 1:48 am
Earthquake geology in the broad sense is the study of the history, effects, and mechanics of earthquakes within and on the Earth’s crust. Most often, earthquake geology is synonymous with active tectonics, a term used to describe the study of tectonic movements that are expected to occur within a future time span of concern to society. Such definitions overlap considerably with other research topics on this site, such as Crustal Deformation, Seismology and Earth Structure, and Strong Motion and Site Response. Important aspects of earthquake geology include the study of tectonic landforms on the Earth’s surface and folds and faults within its crust produced by many earthquakes over thousands to millions of years.
Paleoseismology is the study of the timing, location, and size of prehistoric earthquakes. Paleoseismology differs from other aspects of earthquake geology in its focuses on the almost instantaneous deformation of landforms and sediments during individual earthquakes. This focus permits study of the distribution of earthquakes in space and over time periods of hundreds to tens of thousands of years. Such paleoseismic histories help us understand other aspects of earthquake geology, such as regional patterns of tectonic deformation and the long-term behavior of specific faults. More importantly, knowledge of when, where, and how often, large earthquakes occur is crucial for characterizing the seismic hazard of a region.