Course EAS 8803/4803: Earthquake Physics

Fall, 2012

Zhigang Peng
ES&T 2256

Syllabus (PDF version)
Supplementary Lecture Material


When: Tues., Thurs., 12:05 - 1:25 pm
Where: ES&T L1118 (not 1105 any more)

Office Hours: Before class, from 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm, or by appointment.

Course Objectives: This course consists of a series of lectures and discussions on the current status of physical processes that control fault slips and earthquakes.

Recommended Text:
  • Scholz, C.H., The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting, 2nd Ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, 471 pp., 2002.
  • Stein, S.A.,& M. Wysession, An Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes, and Earth Structure, Blackwell Publishing, 498 pp., 2003.
    Additional material will be either handed out in class or made available on the course website.

Course Outline:

This is an approximate outline of topics and timing and is subject to change throughout the semester.
Classes Date Topic
1-3 Aug 21 - 28 Brittle Fracture of Rocks
4-6 Aug 30 - Sept 6 Rock Friction
7-8 Sept 11 - 13 Mechanics of Faulting
9-10 Sept 18 - 20 Mechanics and Quantifications of Earthquakes
11-12Sept 25 - Sept 27 Collective Behaviors of Earthquakes and Faults
13Oct 2 zpeng out of town; mini-tutorial on mid-term projects
14-15 Oct 4 - 9 The Seismic Cycle I
16 Oct 11 Midterm
17 Oct 16 Fall recess
18Oct 18 Student Presentions for Mid-term Projects
19-20 Oct 23 - Oct 25 The Seismic Cycle II
Discussions/Debates of Emergent Research Topics
21-22 Oct 30 - Nov 1 Slow Earthquakes
23-24Nov 6 - 8 Interaction of Earthquakes and Other Natural Phenomenon
25-26Nov 13 - 15 Earthquake Triggering: Static vs. Dynamic
27 Nov 20 Earthquake Prediction: Optimistic vs. Pessimistic
Nov 22-23 No class: thanksgiving
28Nov 27 Earthquake Prediction: Optimistic vs. Pessimistic
29Nov 29 Student Presentations for Final Projects
30-31Dec 4 - 6 zpeng goes to the AGU meeting, no class


Midterm exam (30%), Midterm project (20%), Discussions (25%), Final course project (25`%).

Exam: There will be a midterm exam* (30%) covering all material presented during the lecture portion of the course. Reference to texts or other documents such as previous semester course materials during the exam is strictly forbidden. Using these materials will be considered a direct violation of academic policy and will be dealt with according to the GT Academic Honor Code. The use of electronic devices (e.g. cellular phones, computers etc.) other than non-programmable calculators during exams and quizzes is not allowed.

Discussion: Approximately half of this class will be comprised of detailed discussion of five topics of modern research in the field of earthquake physics (listed in the course outline). Before each discussion, you will be expected to read the assigned papers and submit (electronically) a 2-page summary (double-space, 12 font-size, not including reference) of the topic. After discussion is completed on that topic, you will submit a new 3-page synthesis of your understanding of the current state-of-the-art of that topic. Your grade will depend on both your written summaries (10%) and synthesis (10%), and in class participation (5%). In the last three topics that involve debates, we will divide the classes into opposite groups and present their arguments.

Project: There will be two course projects. The first project is due immediately after the midterm and is a fixed topic. The final course project is open to any topics related to earthquake physics. This can be a literature review of a selected topic, or research project involving calculations, data analysis, or theoretical results done in consultation with the instructor. The topic needed to be approved by the instructor before the midterm. Your paper should be written up in a journal form with length, figures and referencing in a format suitable for submission to journals like Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). Please check the AGU author guide for more details. You will present your term paper in a 15 minute AGU-style talk; a 12 minute presentation with 3 minutes of questions. The midterm project will count as 20%, and the final project will count as 25% of your overall course grade.

Academic Honesty:

It is expected that all students are aware of their individual responsibilities under the Geor gia Tech Academic Honor Code, which will be strictly adhered to in this class. The complete te xt of the Georgia Tech Academic Honor Code is at

Geophysics Home | Updated: Tue Aug 14 14:28:58 EDT 2012