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Earthquakes, mountain formation topic of Jan. 19 symposium

Earthquakes, mountain formation topic of Jan. 19 symposium

(January 8, 2001)

Earthquake mechanisms and the geological processes that underlie the building of mountains will be the topic of a special symposium in honor of UCR geophysicist Harry W. Green, II scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, at the University of California, Riverside.

The symposium is open to the public free of charge. It will be in room A265 of Bourns Hall on the UCR campus. Parking on campus is $6 per vehicle.

"Flow and Failure in the Earth's Crust and Mantle: How Mountains Form and Earthquakes Occur" will feature presentations by four eminent geophysicists. The symposium commemorates Green's five years of service as UCR's vice chancellor for research. Under Green's administrative tenure, from 1995 to 2000, research grants and contracts to UCR increased from $40 million a year to $52 million for the academic year 1999-2000. He recently returned to full-time teaching and research as professor of geology and geophysics, and researcher in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

Green is an authority on the phenomenon of deep earthquakes, those that occur between 180 and 400 miles beneath the surface of the Earth. Rarely felt on the Earth's surface, these quakes are so deep that the pressure is too great for rocks to break or slide along faults by the same process as more familiar shallow earthquakes.

A mechanism to explain deep earthquakes was discovered in 1989 by Green and a graduate student; they identified the transformation of deep earth minerals into increasingly denser forms as the trigger of such quakes. His work has been published in the world's most prestigious journals, including Science and Nature.

The symposium will cover the basics of plate tectonics - the theory that explains how the Earth's outer "lithosphere" is composed of about a dozen large plates that carry the continents and ocean basins and that collide with each other and diverge from each other to form major mountain ranges and mid-ocean ridges. Presentations will also cover deep earthquakes, scientific efforts to forecast shallow quakes and rocks that form at great depth and are transported to the Earth's surface.

The individual presentations are as follows:
  • "How do Rocks Flow and How do we Know?" by Dr. Jan Tullis, professor of geological sciences at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
  • "Why are Earthquakes so Difficult to Predict?" by Dr. Charles G. Sammis, professor of geological sciences and materials science at the University of Southern California
  • "Rumbles from the Inaccessible Earth: Deep Earthquakes and the Fate of Tectonic Plates" by Dr. Wang-Ping Chen, professor of geophysics at the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana
  • "Ultra-high pressure garnet findings at the surface of the earth and their implications" by Dr. Herman van Roermund, researcher in earth sciences at Utrecht University in The Netherlands.

For more information on the symposium, call Sellyna Ehlers at (909) 787-5535.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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