Course EAS 8803/4803: Earthquake Physics

Fall, 2017

Zhigang Peng
ES&T 2256

Syllabus (PDF version)
Supplementary Lecture Material


When: Tues., Thurs., 12:00 - 1:15 pm
Where: ES&T 1229

Office Hours: After class, from 1:15 pm - 2:00 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


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. Students will be asked to summarize the papers during discussion. After discussion is completed on that topic, you will submit a 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 (15%) 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 on analyzing earthquake sequences. 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 right after 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). The minimum length is 12 page (double space, including references and figures). 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 (20% term paper, 5% presentations).

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

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