About Us: The Geodynamics Research Program is part of the Department of Geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University. The Geodynamics Research Group takes an interdisciplinary approach to attacking some of the research problems in Tectonics, Seismology, Lithospheric Deformation and Dynamics, and Plate Tectonics. The group includes faculty, graduate students and undergraduate researchers working on a broad selection of topics, including crustal deformation in Northern California associated with the northward migration of the Mendocino Triple Junction, modeling creep on the Hayward Fault, using GPS to estimate slip rates in Baja California, studying the complex plate tectonic history and relocating earthquakes to examine the tectonic evolution of the New Zealand plate boundary and by analogy many other areas of active tectonics globally.  


It is the beginning of a new semester and a new era in the Geodynamics Lab. There are several new faces in the lab: Jamie Neely is a Master's student, Thamer Alotaibi is a Ph.D. student, and Ting Chen is a Postdoc. Beth Meyers successfully defended her Master's work, using numerical modeling to estimate the state of stress in Thailand. This work was being finalized just as a M6.1 earthquake occurred in northern Thailand in May 2014, and Beth's modeling successfully anticipated the kinematics of the event. Way to go Beth! Matt Herman is still around, chipping away at his Ph.D. work. He is developing 3D numerical models of subduction zones and assessing the utility of strong motion records, while working on some side projects related to seismicity in Thailand and the evolution of the Solomon Islands slab tear.

Lots has changed since the last update! Rachel Piotraschke defended her M.S. thesis in November 2011, and currently works at Newfield Exploration in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Matt Herman defended his M.S. thesis in May 2012, using aftershock kinematics to characterize the Canterbury earthquake sequence on South Island, New Zealand. He is currently working towards a Ph.D., studying the relationship between static and seismic deformation during large earthquakes. Beth Meyers is beginning her M.S. degree, investigating the seismotectonics of the complex collision zone in Thailand. With Rob Drewicz and Eric Guth working on senior theses, the lab is a bustling place.

Matt Legg completed his M.S. thesis in May, modeling the tectonic and thermal evolution of Hawke’s Bay Basin in New Zealand.  He has accepted a job with Shell Exploration and Production Company in Houston. Rachel Piotraschke is in her second year pursuing her M.S., investigating uplift rates and the tectonic framework of the Klamath Mountains in northern California; and Matt Herman is beginning his M.S. work investigating the tectonic evolution of the plate boundary through New Guinea.

Kevin Furlong has been on sabbatical this year in New Zealand, with a research focus on New Zealand tectonics. As an unexpected component of his research, Kevin experienced first hand the Mw = 7.0 Canterbury Earthquake. He was involved in the immediate response to the earthquake and now is starting  longer-term research projects on the earthquake. There will be great student research opportunities related to this earthquake. You can check out one of his public lectures, presented to the Math and Statistics department at the University of Canterbury soon after the event here.

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