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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics
leoseismic techniques should be furthered. Physical exploration, such as trenching to expose and permit microstratigraphic analysis in critical places, and geomorphic techniques aimed at paleoseismology are of high priority.
Real-Time Geology: Recording, processing, and interpreting of geologic changes in a time frame of seconds to weeks—which can be termed “real-time geology”—are needed for the development of short-term predictive capability. Special instrumentation, automation, and rapid computer processing of data are required. A far more detailed understanding than currently exists of certain real-time Earth processes is needed.
Probability Studies: Methods for expressing the probability of future tectonic activity need much improvement. Incomplete data and debatable interpretations of data will continue to be a problem, and yet both conclusions and uncertainties must be communicated as precisely as possible within the technical community as well as to nontechnical decision makers.
Recommendations for Specific Actions
In order to advance these research areas of high priority, the following institutional considerations and technical approaches are emphasized:
Research in dating techniques suitable for analysis of Quaternary geology should be (a) recognized as a high priority for support by funding groups—both governmental and private and (b) encouraged through workshops and symposia under the auspices of professional societies.
Studies of Quaternary geology useful in analyzing active tectonics should be more effectively integrated into the earth-science curricula of universities. Special attention should be given to tectonic geomorphology including the observational, experimental, and quantitative-theoretical elements.
Emphasis should be given to research programs that employ geodesy to analyze the dynamic as well as the static features of the Earth’s crust.
Clear and specific identity should be given to research concerning Quaternary structures, processes, and rates of processes.
Research programs to develop short-term (up to a few weeks) predictive capabilities for active tectonics, along with the ability for rapid data analysis, should be established or accelerated by those federal and state agencies responsible for issuing geologic hazard warnings. To this end, regional seismic networks and systems for monitoring strain and stress in real time are critical.
Preplanning is needed to assure the effective study of events of opportunity. The observation of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or landslides while they are occurring can reveal facts about Earth processes unavailable at any other time. For example, recording of strong ground motion during an earthquake, measurement of changes in pore pressure during a landslide, or the changes in composition of gases during volcanic eruptions can be carried out only at specific critical moments.
The continuity of carefully selected programs aimed at gathering long-term baseline data with temporal significance is desirable.
The importance of regional seismic networks to the study of active tectonics should be considered and should continue to be evaluated by the appropriate institutions.
Wider use of trenches, tunnels, drill holes, and other artificial excavations to reveal structural and age relations of tectonic units is desirable. Instrumentation of tunnels and boreholes, furthermore, can avoid spurious signals (noise) found near the Earth’s surface and thus permit recording of smaller signals significant to active tectonics.
The further and more complete use of aerial photography and remote sensing at