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The potential impact of deep intraplate earthquakes


Although earthquakes primarily happen on or near modern plate boundaries, a small number occur within stable continental interiors (intra-plate earthquakes). Earthquakes that are even less frequent are ‘deep’ intra-plate earthquakes, which occur at a depth greater than 20 km. The understanding of why modern deep intra-plate earthquakes occur is a major challenge given their infrequency and location from the surface. A hypothesis is that deep latent structures related to ancient plate boundaries could reactivate, and potentially trigger shallower earthquakes. However, this hypothesis has never been formally tested with respect to recent earthquake events. For this project, the successful student will first learn about earthquake dynamics and hazard analysis, and then use data science techniques to review the historical earthquake catalogue to identify any trends linking deep and shallow events (focusing on events in Eastern Canada and Central China). The work will use data science techniques to try and create an advanced visualization platform (e.g., an interactive map) and will also look to further the skillset of the applicant in the art of science communication. We seek applicants with an interest in earthquakes, plate tectonics, data science, and communication to join Prof P. Heron’s team for an MSc or PhD.  For more information, please contact Prof. Phil Heron (https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/physsci/phil-heron).