Ross Stein, USGS Western Earthquake Hazards Team, Menlo Park, Calif.

Earthquake Hazards of Tokyo -- A Global Problem

  • DINNER MEETING - Tuesday, March 13, 2007
  • Location: Stanford University

  • 5:30 PM-Social (3/4) Hour: . . . Hartley
  • 6:15 PM-Dinner: . . . Hartley
  • 7:30 PM-Meeting: . . . GeoCorner Room 320-105

    see Map showing Mitchell and GeoCorner Room 320

    Anyone wishing to attend the lecture only is welcome at no cost.

    This will be the 387th meeting since 1954


    Tokyo and its outlying cities are home to one-quarter of Japan's 127 million people. Highly destructive earthquakes struck the capital in 1703, 1855 and 1923, the last of which took 105,000 lives. The Japanese government estimates that reoccurrence of any of these shocks today would cost about a trillion dollars, exceeding the Japanese annual budget, of which less than 10 percent is insured. Fueled by greater Tokyo's rich seismic data trove but challenged by its magnificent complexity, our joint Japanese–U.S group carried out a new study of the capital's earthquake hazards.

    We used the prehistoric record of great earthquakes preserved by uplifted marine terraces and tsunami deposits, a newly digitized dataset of historical shaking, the dense modern seismic network, and the world's best geodetic array to reinterpret the tectonic structure, identify major active faults and their slip rates, and estimate their earthquake frequency. We propose that a dislodged block of the Pacific plate is jammed between the Pacific, Philippine Sea and Eurasian plates beneath Tokyo. We suggest that the block controls much of Tokyo's seismic behavior for large (M≤7.5) shocks, including the damaging 1855 M~7.3 Ansei–Edo earthquake. On the basis of frequency-magnitude curves for the seismicity beneath greater Tokyo, earthquakes similar to the Ansei–Edo event should be quite frequent, with a ~26%likelihood in an average 30-yr period, and so such events dominate the combined probabilities. In contrast, our renewal (time dependent) probability for the great M ≥7.9 plate boundary shocks such as struck in 1923 is 0.5% for the next 30 yr, with a time-averaged 30-yr probability of ~9%. The resulting net likelihood for severe shaking (0.75-1.0g) in Tokyo, Kawasaki, and Yokohama for the next 30 years is ~33%.

    About the Speaker

    Ross Stein

    Ross Stein is a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. He received an Sc.B. Magna cum Laude and with Honors from Brown University in 1975, a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1980, and was Observatory Post-Doctoral Fellow at Columbia University during 1981. Dr. Stein is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, was Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research during 1986-1989, and chaired the American Geophysical Union’s Board of Journal Editors in 2004-2006. He was a visiting professor at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1989, 1993, and 1999.

    During 1993-2003, the Science Citation Index reported that Stein was the second most-cited author in earthquake science. Dr. Stein received the Eugene M. Shoemaker Distinguished Achievement Award of the USGS in 2000, the Excellence in Outreach Award of the Southern Calif. Earthquake Center in 1999, and the Outstanding Contributions and Cooperation in Geoscience Award from NOAA in 1991. He presented the Francis Birch Lecture of the AGU in 1996, the Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture of the AGU in 2001, C. Thomas Crough Memorial Lecture of Purdue University, Andrew C. Lawson Lecture of U.C. Berkeley, and the Condon Public Lecture of Oregon State University in 2004. In 2005, he was keynote speaker for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, given at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and for a Geological Society of London conference on strike-slip faults.

    Stein has appeared in the Emmy-nominated documentary, ‘Killer Quake’ (NOVA, 1995); the four-part ‘Great Quakes’ series (Discovery Channel, 1997-2001); ‘Earthquake Storms’ (BBC, 2003); and the IMAX film, ‘Forces of Nature’ (National Geographic Society, 2004), which he helped to write and animate. ‘Forces’ was awarded Best feature film of the 2004 Large Format Cinema Association Film Festival; Best film and Best educational film of the 2005 Giant Screen Theater Association, and Grand Prize of the 2005 La Géode International Large Format Film Festival.

    Reservations: The preferred way to make reservations is simply to email Janice Sellers at by March. 9, tell her you will attend, commit to pay, and bring your payment to the meeting. Janice always emails a confirmation; if you don't get one, assume email crashed yet again and email her a second time. A check made to "PGS" is preferred, payable at the meeting.

    If you want to pay in advance:

    Stanford faculty and students: Please make dinner reservations by March. 9. Contact Dr. Elizabeth Miller via her mailbox (and leave check), Geological and Environmental Sciences Office, Geocorner - Bldg. 320 (Rm. 205). Make checks out to "PGS."

    All others, including faculty and students from other Bay Area universities and colleges and USGS: Please make dinner reservations by March. 9. Contact Janice Sellers, at 1066 28th Street, Oakland, CA 94608-4547, (510) 268-8254. Send check made out to "PGS" to Janice.

    Dinner is $30.00. Includes wine (5:30 to 6:15 PM.) and dinner (6:15-7:30 PM.).

    For students from all universities and colleges, the dinner, including the social 3/4-hour, is $5.00 and is partially subsidized thanks to the School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University (Note, no-show reservations owe the full price).

    Doris, whose wonderful crew prepares our meals, asked that we let you know that people who are late RSVP'ing and people who show up without a reservation will be welcome but that they will be eating on paper plates with plastic utensils (food supply permitting).

    Dues for Academic Year 2006-2007 ($10.00) should be sent to Janice Sellers, 1066 28th Street, Oakland, CA 94608-4547. Janice's phone: (510) 268-8254.

    Officers: Ray Wells, President; Dwight Harbaugh and Elizabeth Miller, Co-Vice Presidents; Mike Diggles, Secretary; Janice Sellers, Treasurer; Bob Coleman, Field-Trip Czar

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    Date created: March 8, 2007
    Last modified: March 9, 2007
    Created by: Mike Diggles, Webmaster-Secretary, PGS.

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