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Research at Weston Observatory

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Weston Observatory conducts multidisciplinary research into seismic hazards, seismic risk, seismotectonics, seismic wave propagation, regional geology, geotechnical engineering, and paleobiology. The most prominent research program at Weston Observatory concerns earthquakes and earthquake hazards in the eastern United States and other intraplate environments. Although the primary focus of Weston Observatory is on the study of earthquakes and seismic waves, other Earth Science related studies are also pursued at the Observatory. Two prominent examples are: geologic studies (with a focus on the Northeastern United States) and paleobotany (the origin and early evolution of land plants).

Weston Observatory houses seismic instruments for the New England Seismic Network and for the World-Wide Standardized Seismic Network. These networks monitor earthquakes around the world, with emphasis on the Northeast United States (and particularly New England).

Areas of Research

  • Earthquake Seismology — Weston Observatory is the center for earthquake monitoring in New England. Observatory scientists study earthquakes both regionally and worldwide, conduct seismic hazard analyses, and are involved in earthquake hazard mitigation measures.
  • The New England Seismic Network The regional seismic network for monitoring earthquakes in New England and around the world.
  • Earthquake/Geotechnical Engineering — Weston Observatory scientist conduct  research in geotechnical engineering, particularly in problems related to non-linear soil behavior in earthquake shaking.
  • Engineering/Environmental Geophysics — Shallow geophysical investigations are carried out by the faculty and students at Weston Observatory. This research is focusing increasingly on environmental problems.
  • Regional Geology — Geologists at Weston Observatory map and analyze the regional geology of the Appalachians. They study the structure, geochemistry, paleontology, and evolution of eastern North America.
  • Global Tectonics — Geologists at Weston Observatory, in their study of the assembly and breakup of supercontinents through time, map and analyze the regional geology of selected localities in terranes surrounding the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Paleobotany & Palynology The paleobotany Laboratory at Weston Observatory is engaged in research on the origin and early evolution of land plants based on fossil spores from lower Paleozoic rocks from around the world.