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London Lecture: Fault growth and interactions - implications for earthquake hazard and risk assessment

18 October 2017
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The Geological Society, Burlington House, London
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Faults are components of systems which vary in complexity from what amounts to a single fault through to those which comprise many interacting faults.

Whatever their geometry, recent research indicates that fault interactions provide systems which often show very systematic growth patterns on geological timescales but become increasingly more complex on shorter timescales (e.g. thousands of years or less).

Details of the nature of fault system growth have been established from the analysis of high quality 3D outcrop or seismic datasets in circumstances where the history of faulting is preserved by the blanketing of contemporaneous sedimentary sequences.  The behavioural complexity of fault movements which these studies reveal, highlights the importance of geological and palaeoseismological constraints in earthquake hazard and risk assessment.

Even the high sedimentation rates which promote the preservation of fault history have major implications for earthquake risking, with active faults potentially having no expression in the landscape and therefore going unrecognised.

Using case studies mainly from New Zealand, this talk considers some of the challenges associated with earthquake risking and reinforces the requirement for a combined geological and geophysical approach, even in tectonically active areas where faults have not previously been identified.


John Walsh (University College Dublin)

John Walsh is Professor of Structural Geology at University College Dublin (UCD) and Director of the newly formed Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG). A graduate of UCD and the National University of Ireland, Galway, John founded the Fault Analysis Group with Juan Watterson at the Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences in the University of Liverpool, in 1985. 


He became Director in 1996 overseeing their re-location to University College Dublin in 2000 and acting as Co-Director with Conrad Childs and Tom Manzocchi since 2005. John has published more than 140 papers in international journals and special publications, has been Distinguished Lecturer for a number of organisations (including AAPG and EAGE) and is an Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society.


He is a member of the Geosciences Committee of the Royal Irish Academy and a past Board Member of the Institute of Geologists of Ireland.

John’s principal research interests are to conduct basic research on all aspects of faults and fractures, including their geometry, growth, earthquake characteristics and impact on fluid flow.

An allied aim is to apply the associated research findings to practical problems within the groundwater, hydrocarbon and minerals industries, and to geohazards, such as earthquakes and landslides.


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