Scientists Decipher The Magma Bodies Under Yellowstone

Using supercomputer modeling, University of Oregon scientists have unveiled a new explanation for the geology underlying recent seismic imaging of magma bodies below Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone, a supervolcano famous for explosive eruptions, large calderas and extensive lava flows, has for years attracted the attention of scientists trying to understand the location and size of magma chambers below it. The last caldera forming eruption occurred 630,000 years ago; the last large volume of lava surfaced 70,000 years ago.

Crust below the park is heated and softened by continuous infusions of magma that rise from an anomaly called a mantle plume, similar to the source of the magma at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. Huge amounts of water that fuel the dramatic geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone cool the crust and prevent it from becoming too hot.

With computer modeling, a team led by UO doctoral student Dylan P. Colón has shed light on what’s going on below. At depths of 5-10 kilometers (3-6 miles) opposing forces counter each other, forming a transition zone where cold and rigid rocks of the upper crust give way to hot, ductile and even partially molten rock below, the team reports in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters.

This transition traps rising magmas and causes them to accumulate and solidify in a large horizontal body called a sill, which can be up to 15 kilometers (9 miles) thick, according to the team’s computer modeling.

“The results of the modeling matches observations done by sending seismic waves through the area,” said co-author Ilya Bindeman, a professor in the UO’s Department of Earth Sciences. “This work appears to validate initial assumptions and gives us more information about Yellowstone’s magma locations.”

This mid-crustal sill is comprised of mostly solidified gabbro, a rock formed from cooled magma. Above and below lay separate magma bodies. The upper one contains the sticky and gas-rich rhyolitic magma that occasionally erupts in explosions that dwarf the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state.

Similar structures may exist under super volcanoes around the world, Colón said. The geometry of the sill also may explain differing chemical signatures in eruptive materials, he said.

Colón’s project to model what’s below the nation’s first national park, which was sculpted 2 million years ago by volcanic activity, began soon after a 2014 paper in Geophysical Research Letters by a University of Utah-led team revealed evidence from seismic waves of a large magma body in the upper crust.

Scientists had suspected, however, that huge amounts of carbon dioxide and helium escaping from the ground indicated that more magma is located farther down. That mystery was solved in May 2015, when a second University of Utah-led study, published in the journal Science, identified by way of seismic waves a second, larger body of magma at depths of 20 to 45 kilometers (12-27 miles).

However, Colón said, the seismic-imaging studies could not identify the composition, state and amount of magma in these magma bodies, or how and why they formed there.

To understand the two structures, UO researchers wrote new codes for supercomputer modeling to understand where magma is likely to accumulate in the crust. The work was done in collaboration with researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, also known as ETH Zurich.

The researchers repeatedly got results indicating a large layer of cooled magma with a high melting point forms at the mid-crustal sill, separating two magma bodies with magma at a lower melting point, much of which is derived from melting of the crust.

“We think that this structure is what causes the rhyolite-basalt volcanism throughout the Yellowstone hotspot, including supervolcanic eruptions,” Bindeman said. “This is the nursery, a geological and petrological match with eruptive products. Our modeling helps to identify the geologic structure of where the rhyolitic material is located.”

The new research, for now, does not help to predict the timing of future eruptions. Instead, it provides a never-before-seen look that helps explain the structure of the magmatic plumbing system that fuels these eruptions, Colón said. It shows where the eruptible magma originates and accumulates, which could help with prediction efforts further down the line.

“This research also helps to explain some of the chemical signatures that are seen in eruptive materials,” Colón said. “We can also use it to explore how hot the mantle plume is by comparing models of different plumes to the actual situation at Yellowstone that we understand from the geologic record.”

Colón is now exploring what influences the chemical composition of magmas that erupt at volcanoes like Yellowstone.

Studying the interaction of rising magmas with the crustal transition zone, and how this influences the properties of the magma bodies that form both above and below it, the scientists wrote, should boost scientific understanding of how mantle plumes influence the evolution and structure of continental crust.

Black Hole And Stellar Winds Form Giant Butterfly, Shut Down Star Formation In Galaxy

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have completed an unprecedented “dissection” of twin galaxies in the final stages of merging.

The new study, led by CU Boulder research associate Francisco Müller-Sánchez, explores a galaxy called NGC 6240. While most galaxies in the universe hold only one supermassive black hole at their center, NGC 6240 contains two — and they’re circling each other in the last steps before crashing together.

The research reveals how gases ejected by those spiraling black holes, in combination with gases ejected by stars in the galaxy, may have begun to power down NGC 6240’s production of new stars. Müller-Sánchez’s team also shows how these “winds” have helped to create the galaxy’s most tell-tale feature: a massive cloud of gas in the shape of a butterfly.

“We dissected the butterfly,” said Müller-Sánchez of CU Boulder’s Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS). “This is the first galaxy in which we can see both the wind from the two supermassive black holes and the outflow of low ionization gas from star formation at the same time.”

The team zeroed in on NGC 6240, in part, because galaxies with two supermassive black holes at their centers are relatively rare. Some experts also suspect that those twin hearts have given rise to the galaxy’s unusual appearance. Unlike the Milky Way, which forms a relatively tidy disk, bubbles and jets of gas shoot off from NGC 6240, extending more than 30,000 light years into space and resembling a butterfly in flight.

“Galaxies with a single supermassive black hole never show such a phenomenal structure,” Müller-Sánchez said.

In research that will be published April 18 in Nature, the team discovered that two different forces have given rise to the nebula. The butterfly’s northwest corner, for example, is the product of stellar winds, or gases that stars emit through various processes. The northeast corner, on the other hand, is dominated by a single cone of gas that was ejected by the pair of black holes — the result of those black holes gobbling up large amounts of galactic dust and gas during their merger.

Those two winds combined evict about 100 times the mass of Earth’s sun in gases from the galaxy every year. That’s a “very large number, comparable to the rate at which the galaxy is creating stars in the nuclear region,” Müller-Sánchez said.

Such an outflow can have big implications for the galaxy itself. He explained that when two galaxies merge, they begin a feverish burst of new star formation. Black hole and stellar winds, however, can slow down that process by clearing away the gases that make up fresh stars — much like how a gust of wind can blow away the pile of leaves you just raked.

“NGC 6240 is in a unique phase of its evolution,” said Julie Comerford, an assistant professor in APS at CU Boulder and a co-author of the new study. “It is forming stars intensely now, so it needs the extra strong kick of two winds to slow down that star formation and evolve into a less active galaxy.”

Meteorite Diamonds Tell Of A Lost Planet

Using transmission electron microscopy, EPFL scientists have examined a slice from a meteorite that contains large diamonds formed at high pressure. The study shows that the parent body from which the meteorite came was a planetary embryo of a size between Mercury to Mars. The discovery is published in Nature Communications.

On October 7, 2008, an asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded 37 km above the Nubian Desert in Sudan. The asteroid, now known as “2008 TC3,” was just over four meters in diameter. When it exploded in the atmosphere, it scattered multiple fragments across the desert. Only fifty fragments, ranging in size from 1-10 cm, were collected, for a total mass of 4.5 kg. Over time, the fragments were gathered and catalogued for study into a collection named Almahata Sitta (Arabic for “Station Six,” after a nearby train station between Wadi Halfa and Khartoum).

The Almahata Sitta meteorites are mostly ureilites, a rare type of stony meteorite that often contains clusters of nano-sized diamonds. Current thinking is that these tiny diamonds can form in three ways: enormous pressure shockwaves from high-energy collisions between the meteorite “parent body” and other space objects; deposition by chemical vapor; or, finally, the “normal” static pressure inside the parent body, like most diamonds on Earth.

The unanswered question, so far, has been the planetary origin of 2008 TC3 ureilites. Now, scientists at Philippe Gillet’s lab at EPFL, with colleagues in France and Germany, have studied large diamonds (100-microns in diameter) in some of the Almahata Sitta meteorites and discovered that the asteroid came from a planetary “embryo” whose size is between Mercury to Mars.

The researchers studied the diamond samples using a combination of advanced transmission electron microscopy techniques at EPFL’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Electron Microscopy. The analysis of the data showed that the diamonds had chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides embedded in them — what scientists refer to as “inclusions.” These have been known for a long time to exist inside Earth’s diamonds, but are now described for the first time in an extraterrestrial body.

The particular composition and morphology of these materials can only be explained if the pressure under which the diamonds were formed was higher than 20 GPa (giga-Pascals, the unit of pressure). This level of internal pressure can only be explained if the planetary parent body was a Mercury- to Mars-sized planetary “embryo,” depending on the layer in which the diamonds were formed.

Many planetary formation models have predicted that these planetary embryos existed in the first million years of our solar system, and the study offers compelling evidence for their existence. Many planetary embryos were Mars-sized bodies, such as the one that collided with Earth to give rise to the Moon. Other of these went on to form larger planets, or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the solar system altogether. The authors write “This study provides convincing evidence that the ureilite parent body was one such large ‘lost’ planet before it was destroyed by collisions some 4.5 billion years ago.”

Warning As Japan Volcano Erupts For First Time In 250 Years

A volcano in southern Japan has erupted for the first time in 250 years, spewing steam and ash hundreds of metres into the air, as authorities warned locals not to approach the mountain.

“There is a possibility that (Mount Io) will become more active,” an official from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said, confirming the eruption.

In a televised press conference, the official warned residents in the area to stay away from the mountain, part of the Mount Kirishima group of volcanoes, as major ash deposits spread from the crater.

It was the first eruption of the mountain since 1768, the JMA said.

The agency warned that large flying rocks could fall over a 3km radius.

The eruption threw smoke and ash 400m into the air.

Footage captured by the JMA and local media showed thick white and grey smoke rising from several areas of the mountain.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the Japanese government was “taking all possible measures” to prevent damage and casualties.

The eruption occurred a few kilometres away from Shinmoedake, which featured in the 1967 James Bond film “You Only Live Twice” and erupted in March.

Japan, with scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

In January, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people injured after an eruption near a popular ski resort in northwest of Tokyo.

On 27 September 2014, Japan suffered its deadliest eruption in almost 90 years when Mount Ontake, in central Nagano prefecture, burst unexpectedly to life.

An estimated 63 people were killed in the shock eruption which occurred as the peak was packed with hikers out to see the region’s spectacular autumn colours.

340,000 Stars’ DNA Interrogated In Search For Sun’s Lost Siblings

An Australian-led group of astronomers working with European collaborators has revealed the “DNA” of more than 340,000 stars in the Milky Way, which should help them find the siblings of the Sun, now scattered across the sky.

This is a major announcement from an ambitious Galactic Archaeology survey, called GALAH, launched in late 2013 as part of a quest to uncover the formulation and evolution of galaxies. When complete, GALAH will investigate more than a million stars.

The GALAH survey used the HERMES spectrograph at the Australian Astronomical Observatory’s (AAO) 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope near Coonabarabran, NSW, to collect spectra for the 340,000 stars.

The GALAH Survey today makes its first major public data release.

The ‘DNA’ collected traces the ancestry of stars, showing astronomers how the Universe went from having only hydrogen and helium — just after the Big Bang — to being filled today with all the elements we have here on Earth that are necessary for life.

“No other survey has been able to measure as many elements for as many stars as GALAH,” said Dr Gayandhi De Silva, of the University of Sydney and AAO, the HERMES instrument scientist who oversaw the groups working on today’s major data release.

“This data will enable such discoveries as the original star clusters of the Galaxy, including the Sun’s birth cluster and solar siblings — there is no other dataset like this ever collected anywhere else in the world,” Dr De Silva said.

Dr. Sarah Martell from the UNSW Sydney, who leads GALAH survey observations, explained that the Sun, like all stars, was born in a group or cluster of thousands of stars.

“Every star in that cluster will have the same chemical composition, or DNA — these clusters are quickly pulled apart by our Milky Way Galaxy and are now scattered across the sky,” Dr Martell said.

“The GALAH team’s aim is to make DNA matches between stars to find their long-lost sisters and brothers.”

For each star, this DNA is the amount they contain of each of nearly two dozen chemical elements such as oxygen, aluminium, and iron.

Unfortunately, astronomers cannot collect the DNA of a star with a mouth swab but instead use the starlight, with a technique called spectroscopy.

The light from the star is collected by the telescope and then passed through an instrument called a spectrograph, which splits the light into detailed rainbows, or spectra.

Associate Professor Daniel Zucker, from Macquarie University and the AAO, said astronomers measured the locations and sizes of dark lines in the spectra to work out the amount of each element in a star.

“Each chemical element leaves a unique pattern of dark bands at specific wavelengths in these spectra, like fingerprints,” he said.

Dr Jeffrey Simpson of the AAO said it takes about an hour to collect enough photons of light for each star, but “Thankfully, we can observe 360 stars at the same time using fibre optics,” he added.

The GALAH team has spent more than 280 nights at the telescope since 2014 to collect all the data.

The GALAH survey is the brainchild of Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn from the University of Sydney and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) and Professor Ken Freeman of the Australian National University (ANU). It was conceived more than a decade ago as a way to unravel the history of our Milky Way galaxy; the HERMES instrument was designed and built by the AAO specifically for the GALAH survey.

Measuring the abundance of each chemical in so many stars is an enormous challenge. To do this, GALAH has developed sophisticated analysis techniques.

PhD student Sven Buder of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Germany, who is lead author of the scientific article describing the GALAH data release, is part of the analysis effort of the project, working with PhD student Ly Duong and Professor Martin Asplund of ANU and ASTRO 3D.

Mr. Buder said: “We train [our computer code] The Cannon to recognize patterns in the spectra of a subset of stars that we have analysed very carefully, and then use The Cannon’s machine learning algorithms to determine the amount of each element for all of the 340,000 stars.” Ms. Duong noted that “The Cannon is named for Annie Jump Cannon, a pioneering American astronomer who classified the spectra of around 340,000 stars by eye over several decades a century ago — our code analyses that many stars in far greater detail in less than a day.”

The GALAH survey’s data release is timed to coincide with the huge release of data on 25 April from the European Gaia satellite, which has mapped more than 1.6 billion stars in the Milky Way — making it by far the biggest and most accurate atlas of the night sky to date.

In combination with velocities from GALAH, Gaia data will give not just the positions and distances of the stars, but also their motions within the Galaxy.

Professor Tomaz Zwitter (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) said today’s results from the GALAH survey would be crucial to interpreting the results from Gaia: “The accuracy of the velocities that we are achieving with GALAH is unprecedented for such a large survey.”

Dr Sanjib Sharma from the University of Sydney concluded: “For the first time we’ll be able to get a detailed understanding of the history of the Galaxy.”

The ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) is a $40m Research Centre of Excellence funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and six collaborating Australian universities — The Australian National University, The University of Sydney, The University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Western Australia and Curtin University.

Martian Moons Model Indicates Formation Following Large Impact

Southwest Research Institute scientists posit a violent birth of the tiny Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, but on a much smaller scale than the giant impact thought to have resulted in the Earth-Moon system. Their work shows that an impact between proto-Mars and a dwarf-planet-sized object likely produced the two moons, as detailed in a paper published today in Science Advances.

The origin of the Red Planet’s small moons has been debated for decades. The question is whether the bodies were asteroids captured intact by Mars gravity or whether the tiny satellites formed from an equatorial disk of debris, as is most consistent with their nearly circular and co-planar orbits. The production of a disk by an impact with Mars seemed promising, but prior models of this process were limited by low numerical resolution and overly simplified modeling techniques.

“Ours is the first self-consistent model to identify the type of impact needed to lead to the formation of Mars’ two small moons,” said lead author Dr. Robin Canup, an associate vice president in the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division. Canup is one of the leading scientists using large-scale hydrodynamical simulations to model planet-scale collisions, including the prevailing Earth-Moon formation model.

“A key result of the new work is the size of the impactor; we find that a large impactor — similar in size to the largest asteroids Vesta and Ceres — is needed, rather than a giant impactor,” Canup said. “The model also predicts that the two moons are derived primarily from material originating in Mars, so their bulk compositions should be similar to that of Mars for most elements. However, heating of the ejecta and the low escape velocity from Mars suggests that water vapor would have been lost, implying that the moons will be dry if they formed by impact.”

The new Mars model invokes a much smaller impactor than considered previously. Our Moon may have formed when a Mars-sized object crashed into the nascent Earth 4.5 billion years ago, and the resulting debris coalesced into the Earth-Moon system. The Earth’s diameter is about 8,000 miles, while Mars’ diameter is just over 4,200 miles. The Moon is just over 2,100 miles in diameter, about one-fourth the size of Earth.

While they formed in the same timeframe, Deimos and Phobos are very small, with diameters of only 7.5 miles and 14 miles respectively, and orbit very close to Mars. The proposed Phobos-Deimos forming impactor would be between the size of the asteroid Vesta, which has a diameter of 326 miles, and the dwarf planet Ceres, which is 587 miles wide.

“We used state-of-the-art models to show that a Vesta-to-Ceres-sized impactor can produce a disk consistent with the formation of Mars’ small moons,” said the paper’s second author, Dr. Julien Salmon, an SwRI research scientist. “The outer portions of the disk accumulate into Phobos and Deimos, while the inner portions of the disk accumulate into larger moons that eventually spiral inward and are assimilated into Mars. Larger impacts advocated in prior works produce massive disks and more massive inner moons that prevent the survival of tiny moons like Phobos and Deimos.”

These findings are important for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Mars Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, which is planned to launch in 2024 and will include a NASA-provided instrument. The MMX spacecraft will visit the two Martian moons, land on the surface of Phobos and collect a surface sample to be returned to Earth in 2029.

“A primary objective of the MMX mission is to determine the origin of Mars’ moons, and having a model that predicts what the moons compositions would be if they formed by impact provides a key constraint for achieving that goal,” Canup said.

USGS Rolls Out Groundbreaking Earthquake Study: The HayWired Earthquake Scenario

USGS collaborates with key academic, state, local, and industry partners to provide a new look at what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Today, the USGS, along with approximately 60 partners, released a new fact sheet that summarizes a report from a larger study of what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area along the Hayward Fault – arguably one of the most urbanized and interconnected areas in the nation. This study is called “The HayWired Earthquake Scenario.”

“The USGS and its partners have worked together to anticipate the impacts of a hypothetical M7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault, before it happens, so that people can use the latest science in their efforts to become even better prepared,” said Ken Hudnut, USGS Science Advisor for Risk Reduction and one of the lead authors of the HayWired Earthquake Scenario report.

The newly released USGS Fact Sheet, “The HayWired Earthquake Scenario – We Can Outsmart Disaster,” provides a concise overview of what will be a multi-volume report. The Fact Sheet distills key points of the report and provides the first glimpse of a truly groundbreaking study into earthquake hazard impacts, mitigation efforts, and resiliency actions for communities in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is the HayWired Scenario?

The HayWired Scenario is a scientifically realistic, highly detailed depiction of what may happen during and after a M7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault with an epicenter in Oakland, CA. But it is not a prediction, and a real earthquake on the Hayward Fault could occur at any time and with a different pattern of shaking causing damage to be concentrated in different spots. Understanding the risk and getting ready for a large earthquake on the Hayward Fault like the one depicted in this scenario can help other at-risk communities prepare for similar events that are possible in their area.

The USGS Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) team initiated and coordinated collaboration among a diverse group of partners, from academia to public utility companies, to create a hypothetical earthquake scenario in the San Francisco Bay area, including impacts on nearby communities. SAFRR and its partners are publishing a multi-volume USGS Scientific Investigation Report on the HayWired Earthquake Scenario – the first two volumes are available now (HayWired Scenario Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and the third volume is expected to be released by October 2018. Dale Cox, Project Manager for the HayWired Earthquake Scenario, described the far-reaching scope of the project: “If we all have a common understanding of what will happen before such an earthquake actually strikes, we can reshape a future with reduced losses and injuries from damaged buildings, roads, rails, pipes, wires, and fires.”

Although other earthquake hazard investigations for this area have been published, the HayWired Earthquake Scenario focuses in-depth on key themes not addressed in previous scenarios: the cumulative impacts of aftershocks and fault afterslip, likely performance of buildings constructed under current building codes, urban search and rescue implications, effects of lifeline interdependencies (including the Internet), and communities at risk. With the objective of enhancing resilience, the scenario aims to improve the communication and use of earthquake hazard studies and early warning and aftershock forecast information, and it will inform future building code developments, community capacity building, and business continuity planning.

Ryan Arba from the Earthquake and Tsunami Program within the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said, “The HayWired report provides a thorough, comprehensive analysis of the potential impact of a large-scale earthquake in the Bay Area. The State of California and its local partners have been preparing for decades; however, there is always more that we can do.” He goes on to say, “We encourage everyone to learn about the HayWired Earthquake Scenario so that they can remain vigilant in their efforts to be prepared for the next earthquake.”

Why Is It Called “HayWired”?

Communications at all levels are crucial during incident response following an earthquake. Damage to critical facilities (such as power plants) from earthquake shaking, and to electrical and telecommunications wires and fiber-optic cables that are severed where they cross a ruptured fault, can trigger cascading Internet and telecommunications outages. Restoring these services is vitally important for emergency-response coordination.

Without good communications, emergency-response efficiency is reduced, and as a result, life-saving response functions can be compromised. Thus, the name “HayWired” was chosen for the scenario to emphasize the need to examine our interconnectedness and reliance on telecommunications and other lifelines such as water and electricity.

Collaboration and Community Engagement are Essential

When asked about earthquakes in the United States, most people think of California. The “Golden State” is foremost in the public’s mind when we talk about earthquakes and impacts on communities. In fact, California’s long history of earthquake activity has enabled scientists to obtain critical data that advances understanding of how earthquakes work and what havoc they could wreak in the future. This study of the Hayward Fault is particularly notable not only for its scientific basis, but also because of the significant and impactful relationships that were either created or strengthened among a variety of partners.

“In 2017, Californians experienced multiple natural and man-made disasters that have had major impacts to lives, businesses, and communities,” said California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Authority (BCSH) Secretary Alexis Podesta. “The HayWired Earthquake Scenario report gives us a common understanding of our risk and will help us collectively prevent natural disasters from becoming ongoing catastrophes. Together we can outsmart disaster.”

Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, approximately $50 billion in infrastructure improvements and other investments were made to reduce earthquake vulnerability across the region.

The USGS partnered with numerous organizations to form the “HayWired Coalition,” whose members’ goal is to identify the scenario’s potential impacts on their constituents and to align the scenario with the resiliency, response, and recovery planning of their respective communities. The coalition began forming in mid-2016 to gather input and organize the interactions of a broad range of stakeholders – from utility companies to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Red Cross to design and engineering firms. This process enhanced the scenario development team by helping to identify previously unrecognized vulnerabilities of communities, lifeline infrastructure, and supply chains.

As the HayWired Earthquake Scenario team examined the possible effects on every aspect of daily life, it was important to understand what people would need to get their lives back to normal. The USGS worked closely with the State of California to ramp up a public-engagement campaign that would use the scenario as a catalyst to make communities aware of earthquake risk, to help them understand what they can do to mitigate the impact of an earthquake, and how to bounce back once the shaking stops. The campaign is called “Outsmart Disaster,” and is led by the Seismic Safety Commission, which falls under the BCSH. Additionally, the USGS worked closely with the California Geological Survey and the California Office of Emergency Services to obtain a comprehensive view of the region’s current level of preparedness and its potential for improved resiliency.

Ken Hudnut summed up the spirit of the HayWired Coalition, saying, “Teamwork and partnerships have truly been the key to our success in developing the HayWired Earthquake Scenario.”

Start with Science

The USGS provides science that is critical for understanding earthquake risk, because communities can plan more effectively for earthquakes if they know when and where damaging earthquakes are likely to occur and what their effects might be – from the shaking that accompanies a mainshock and its aftershocks to secondary effects like landslides, liquefaction, and fault afterslip. Incorporation of new models from the USGS and its various partners ensure the HayWired Earthquake Scenario reflects the best and most current understanding of earthquake science and engineering.

Earthquakes pose a threat to the safety of more than 143 million people living in the United States, and estimated long-term annualized earthquake losses in the United States are more than $6.1 billion per year. The social and economic losses associated with deaths, injuries, and damage to property and infrastructure can be significantly reduced if communities understand the risk and take proactive steps to mitigate that risk.

Earthquake risk and exposure continues to increase with population growth and expanded development in hazard-prone regions of the country. Understanding earthquake hazards is critical for informed policies, priorities, strategies, and funding decisions to protect communities most at risk.