From the Directors: A New Dawn

Dear SCEC Community,


SCEC Internship Programs Open for Summer 2024 Applications

Past Issues

September 2023
December 2022
July 2022
October 2021
June 2021
March 2021
December 2020
October 2020
June 2020
March 2020
December 2019

Article Suggestions
If you have suggestions for recent research, education, or outreach activities to highlight in a future newsletter; or recognition, award, or honor of a member of the SCEC community, email Mark Benthien.


Articles from SCEC, our partners, and other sources.

2023 was a very challenging year that tested the resilience of many communities worldwide to earthquakes and other natural & human-induced disasters. SCEC had its share of challenges, losses, but also gains. In February, the Kahramanmaras earthquake sequence, including a pair of strong Mw7.8 and Mw7.5 events, generated catastrophic loss of life, damage, and homelessness in Turkey and Syria. In September and October disastrous earthquakes struck Morocco and Afghanistan, respectively. As noted in our previous newsletter, our community lost Dave Jackson and Ilya Zaliapin in March and May, respectively. Regretfully, in October, Tom Henyey – a former SCEC director and former chair of the department of Earth Sciences at USC, also passed away. In California 2023 earthquake activity was moderate, fortunately, with the highest rate of seismicity in the offshore region of the Mendocino triple junction. This area, which accommodates the transition from the San Andreas fault system to the Cascadia subduction zone, is not well understood and deserves further research.

In 2023 there were very important positive developments for SCEC, including the start of a new Statewide phase for the Center with a natural laboratory that includes the entire transform plate boundary in California as well as the western Basin and Range and northernmost Baja California. SCEC has been conducting components of our research, education, and public preparedness activities over the entire state of California and beyond, but the formal change to a Statewide center provides strong impetus for focused activities outside southern California. This is reflected in the RFP for the 2024 SCEC science collaboration, which was released to the community in early November, with an aim to extend the available knowledge on community earth models and seismic hazards across all portions of the plate-boundary, with a special focus in 2024 on northern California.

What else happened in the Fall?

  • On October 1, the new NSF award for the Statewide Center started.
  • SCEC Board approved UC Berkeley’s application to be a Core Institution, raising the number of Core institutions to 24.
  • On October 19, SCEC and the Earthquake Country Alliance (which SCEC leads statewide) coordinated another very successful Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill with 10.25 million participants in CA, 19.3 million in the US, and 56.4 million globally (includes national/regional drills).
  • On November 27, the SCEC directors, Advisory Council member Steve Bohlen, and the director of NHR3 Yousef Bozorgnia had a productive meeting in Sacramento with representatives of several state agencies (CalOES, CGS, DWR, CEC, CPUC) to advance a vision on developing a Coalition for Earthquake Resilient California (CERC - see Figure 1.)
  • On December 10, SCEC sponsored a pre-AGU field trip to provide an overview of the unique geology, tectonic setting, and seismic hazards of the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • On December 15, SCEC opened applications for Summer 2024 internship programs SURE and SOURCES.
  • In December we received additional support from PG&E, submitted a major 2-year proposal to the USGS to fund activities of the Statewide Center, and submitted a modest 3-year proposal to NASA to fund collaborations of SCEC and NASA researchers.

Figure 1: Main components of the proposed CERC Initiative

In January, we will begin the rollout of the new Statewide Center website, review the 89 proposals received for the 2024 collaboration plan, and host an event at USC (livestreamed) to formally launch the Statewide Center, likely on January 24.

In closing, we wish to congratulate members of our community who received Medals, Awards and Prizes in 2023. These include Norm Abrahamson (the Gilbert F. White Award and Distinguished Lecture of AGU), Ramon Arrowsmith and Chelsea Scott (the Open Science Recognition Prize of AGU), Alice Gabriel (AGU Macelwane Medal and AGU fellow), Lucy Jones (the Gutenberg Lecture of AGU), Valere Lambert (the Keiiti Aki Early Career Award of AGU), Eric Fielding (AGU fellow), Francois Renard (AGU fellow), and Daniel Trugman (the Charles F. Richter Early Career Award of SSA).

Happy holiday season and best wishes for 2024,

Yehuda Ben-Zion, SCEC Director
Greg Beroza, SCEC Co-Director


Thomas L. Henyey (Tom), former chair of the USC Earth Sciences Department and former SCEC director (1996-2002), passed away on October 10, 2023, at the age of 82. Tom was born in New York City on March 7, 1941, while his father (a famous astrophysicist) was spending a year as a Guggenheim fellow at Columbia University. He spent his early years in Wisconsin while his father was a professor at Yerkes Observatory. In 1947 his father was hired as a professor in the Astronomy Department at UC-Berkeley and the family moved to the East Bay area of San Francisco.
[Read article by John Mcraney (with contributions from Yehuda Ben-Zion, David Okaya, Tom Jordan, and Mark Benthien)]

SCEC Pre-AGU Bay Area Field Trip

On December 10, 2023, eighteen SCEC community members convened for a special SCEC-sponsored field trip co-led by Kim Blisnuik (San Jose State University), Tim Dawson (California Geological Survey and SCEC Board of Directors Chair), Austin Elliot (USGS – Moffett Field), and Tyler Ladinsky (California Geological Survey). As part of SCEC’s Statewide focus, the trip was designed to highlight the unique geology, tectonic setting, and seismic hazards of the San Francisco Bay Area. The trip was timed to take advantage of the critical mass of scientists gathered for the 2023 American Geophysical Union’s Fall Annual meeting, held in San Francisco for the first time in four years. 
[Read article by Tim Dawson]

SCEC Internship Programs Open for Summer 2024 Applications

The Statewide California Earthquake Center (SCEC) is opening applications for Summer 2024 undergraduate Internships. After a year on pause, SCEC is proud to revive these impactful programs that have supported the research endeavors of over 700 undergraduate students since their inception in 1994. SCEC Internships offer students the opportunity to engage in meaningful research experiences alongside leading scientists in the field of earthquake science. The diverse range of projects includes paleoseismic field investigations, 3D fault mapping, ground motion simulations, high-performance computing applications, and hazard analysis.
[Read article by Gabriela Noriega]