Global Forum Researchers spend week examining regional earthquake and volcanic hazards

OVERVIEW: Global Forum research professor Sean Bemis and PhD student Michael Vadman spent a week in central Oregon collecting new observations as the beginning of a research project examining regional earthquake and volcanic hazards.


No recent studies have applied modern geologic techniques to the active faults and young volcanic deposits of the Cascade Lakes area south of Bend, Oregon. In view of the rapidly growing population and potential for damage to dams, railroads, and other infrastructure, further exploration is vital to support proper hazard mitigation measures.

Our goal is to define when earthquakes have happened on individual faults in the past, and use this information to 1) contribute to local, regional, and national earthquake hazard assessments, and 2) understand whether large earthquakes on these faults could trigger eruptions from nearby volcanoes. Because volcano and earthquake hazards are often evaluated separately, this unique research direction will help us better anticipate possible worst-case hazard scenarios.

This research requires hand digging excavations with the help of detailed photos of the terrain to pinpoint the exact area to explore.

But, it is not all about the glamor of digging a five foot deep trench. Recent 3D technology enables us to build 3D models from overlapping photographs taken at the site. At this trench site, we used a small drone to collect a series of site photographs that we have assembled into a 3D model which can be accessed here: