Haiti Earthquake Lecture Wednesday

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 11:15:00 AM

The massive and shocking Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010 is still periodically in the news, with much of the current focus on the human suffering and efforts at recovery. It was the fourth most deadly earthquake anywhere since 1900. 

The geological underpinnings and lessons of the magnitude 7.0 event that shattered the Haitian capital will be explored Wednesday April 28, this week, in a special lecture at UC Berkeley. 

The Lawson Lecture, sponsored by the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, is an annual event, honoring Berkeley professor of geology Andrew Lawson, who did much to advance the science of earthquake studies by leading a careful and extensive review of the 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco. (He also named the San Andreas Fault). 

Each year a distinguished expert is invited to give the lecture on a timely aspect of earthquakes. While the Lawson Lectures are on technical topics they are typically presented in a way accessible to the layperson. 

This year, the lecture will be given Wednesday, April 28, at 4:00 pm by Bay Area based Carol Prentice, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. She spent four weeks in Haiti earlier this year. 

“The details of the 12 January event held many surprises from a scientific perspective, but the inevitability of earthquakes this size in this region is no surprise, and the tragic loss of life due to poor construction practices is also no surprise”, reads the announcement for the event. 

The Lawson lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held this year in the Banatao Auditorium, Room 310 Sutardja Dai Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.  

(The new building is the large, brown, building just south of Hearst and Le Roy on the northern edge of the campus. If you enter the campus by North Gate, off Euclid, turn east—towards the hills—beyond brown shingle North Gate Hall and go straight ahead to Sutardja Dai Hall along the adjacent roadway.) 

The lecture starts at 4:00 p.m. “exactly”. Doors open at 3:30. It will also be live broadcast on the web. Click mms://media.citris.berkeley.edu/CACS after 3:00 pm on Wednesday to watch. 

The Berkeley Seismological Laboratory webpage is at http://seismo.berkeley.edu/ 

The Lawson Lecture link is highlighted in bright green on the right, just below a fascinating periodic feature called “Today in Earthquake History.” (The most recent entry, for April 17, describes how on that date in 1889 German astronomer in Potsdam noticed a strangely swinging pendulum, and was able to later connect that movement to an earthquake in Japan, demonstrating that seismic waves travel vast distances through the earth.)