Past Seminars Seminários Já Decorridos 2005

When the Earth quakes

By: João Fonseca
From: Physics Department, IST
At: Complexo Interdisplinar, Anfiteatro
[2005-11-23] 11:30

Attempts to explain the earthquakes can be found in many mythologies and ancient religions, but only in the mid 19th Century, after elasticity was fully developed, was it possible to explain the propagation of seismic waves. The causative geological process was understood in the early 20th Century, following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, but a satisfactory physical model for the release of seismic energy during the rupture of a geological fault was only achieved in the sixties. The last 25 years have seen a great technological development in seismological observation, namely in the sensors used and in the capacity to handle the information, and our capacity to describe and understand the details of the earthquake process has increased accordingly.

While earthquake prediction remains a somewhat utopic goal, the quantification of seismic hazard and risk remains an important task for seismologists, providing the basis for an adequate implementation of mitigation measures.

In this talk, I will briefly cover historical and more recent aspects of the development of seismology, and describe how it is being applied at the Earthquake Engineering and Seismology Group of ICIST.