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Mendenhall Research Fellowship - Research Opportunity # 17-10. Marine Geohazards of the Cascadia Subduction Zone
The Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program's (CMHRP) Subduction Zone Marine Geohazards Project is centered around three science themes: (1) large earthquake recurrence (e.g., frequency of large earthquakes; likelihood of future events; similarities/differences between different types of events); (2) tsunamigenic potential and forearc response to large earthquakes; and (3) mechanics of megathrust rupture (e.g., factors that control the extent and slip amplitude of earthquakes along the subduction interface).
Identification of the sources, volumes, and pathways of sediment delivered to the continental shelf and slope during the Quaternary is necessary to understand both the role of sediment in evolution of the margin and in recording past tsunami, earthquake and landslide events. Investigation of source-to-sink sediment dynamics is critical, particularly for identifying basins prone to strong shaking, slopes susceptible to landslides and optimal environment(s) for marine paleoseismology investigations. Examination of the linkages between fluvial systems, tectonic basins, fault interactions, seafloor morphology, offshore storage locations and dispersal pathways is fundamental in understanding earthquake and landslide recurrence and its variability along the margin.
Along-strike variations in morphology and structure along the Cascadia margin appear to reflect spatial variations in megathrust behavior, yet key questions remain regarding the relationship between the structure and behavior of the megathrust and forearc including controls on segmentation, locking, slip to the trench and the rupture patterns of upper and lower plate faults. Upper plate structures, including possible splay faults, that rupture with the megathrust are most likely to contribute to seafloor displacement and potential tsuamigenesis. Identification and regional mapping of active fault structures can provide insight to the segmentation pattern, earthquake recurrence intervals, stress/strain accommodation and variations in coastal uplift/subsidence.
It is important to understand the complex 3D structural relationships of forearc faults (e.g., megathrust fault, splay faults) and the hydrogeologic system that influences fault slip behavior and the generation of large, potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes. The shallow subduction of relatively young crust at the Cascadia margin also provides an ideal opportunity to study the effects of temperature on the behavior of the subducting system (e.g., impacts on lithospheric deformation, slab dehydration, fluid migration and fault friction). Elevated pore fluid pressure along faults reduces effective stress and fault strength along faults, and has also been proposed to result in alternative modes of slip behavior, such as episodic tremor and slip, low frequency earthquakes, and slow-slip events. With numerous seeps mapped along the margin, much of the shallow hydration system and its effect on subduction zone hazards can be understood by studying seabed fluid expulsion and fluid plumbing along forearc faults via imaging and sampling the uppermost forearc sediments.
Proposed Duty Station: Santa Cruz, CA
Areas of Ph.D.: Marine geology, marine geophysics, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines but with knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).
Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geologist; Research Geophysicist
(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources Specialist.)
Physical/Environmental Demands: Most work is sedentary and involves interactive procedures with computers and other technical equipment. Performance of office duties is generally carried out under comfortable conditions. Fieldwork may be conducted on land, in the air, and at sea. Project work may require several weeks or more of shipboard operations and data gathering. Shipboard and airborne work must often be carried out under uncomfortable weather conditions, on a moving platform, with relatively high noise levels, and less than ideal living conditions. On land fieldwork could involve hiking over long distances (over 10 miles) with heavy loads (up to 40 pounds), and work in areas where footing is treacherous such as slippery riverbanks, in steep or rocky terrain, and in fast moving water.
The employee applies a wide range of safety precautions when controlled conditions deteriorate due to unforeseen conditions or previously unknown risks.
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