Project Info

Grain size and seismic slip in the Sunda Trench: Insights to Big Earthquakes

Brandon Dugan

Project Goals and Description:

We have acquired significant data on the 2004 M9+ Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and tsunami. As part of this project, the student and mentor will use analytical techniques to characterize how clay content in the input sediments to the earthquake zone varies. This will help constrain models on clay-mitigated frictional strength and their impacts on large, tsunami generating earthquakes. The data collected with this project will be integrated with prior work on sand deposition and sediment source to the region.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Not applicable.

McNeill, L.C., Dugan, B., Petronotis, K.E., and the Expedition 362 Scientists, Proceedings of the International Ocean Discovery Program Volume 362

Hüpers, A., Torres, M.E., Owari, S., McNeill, L.C., Dugan, B., Henstock, T.J., Milliken, K.L., Petronotis, K.E., Backman, J., Bourlange, S., Chemale, F., Chen, W., Colson, T.A., Frederik, M.C.G., Guèrin, G., Hamahashi, M., House, B.M., Jeppson, T.N., Kachovich, S., Kenigsberg, A.R., Kuranaga, M., Kutterolf, S., Mitchison, F.L., Mukoyoshi, H., Nair, N., Pickering, K.T., Pouderoux, H.F.A., Shan, Y., Song, I., Vannucchi, P., Vrolijk, P.J., Yang, T., and Zhao, X., 2017. Release of mineral-bound water prior to subduction tied to shallow seismogenic slip off Sumatra. Science, 356(6340):841-844. McNeill, L.C., Dugan, B., Backman, J., Pickering, K.T., Pouderoux, H.F.A., Henstock, T.J., Petronotis, K.E., Carter, A., Chemale, F., Milliken, K.L., Kutterolf, S., Mukoyoshi, H., Chen, W., Kachovich, S., Mitchison, F.L., Bourlange, S., Colson, T.A., Frederik, M.C.G., Guèrin, G., Hamahashi, M., House, B.M., Hüpers, A., Jeppson, T.N., Kenigsberg, A.R., Kuranaga, M., Nair, N., Owari, S., Shan, Y., Song, I., Torres, M.E., Vannucchi, P., Vrolijk, P.J., Yang, T., Zhao, X., and Thomas, E., 2017. Understanding Himalayan erosion and the significance of the Nicobar Fan. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 475:134-142.  

Primary Contacts:

Brandon Dugan,

Student Preparation


Basic laboratory skills, basic geology, and an eagerness to collect laboratory data on geology and integrate it with geological, geophysical, and geochemical data.


3-4 hrs/week


Lab skills on grain size analysis. Computer skills on data loading and plotting. Thought skills on integrating data sets from different disciplines.


I will set up weekly meetings with the student. In these meetings we will discuss the motivations behind research, how hyoptheses are developed and tested, how small projects can lead to big advances, and how to do research. We will discuss questions the student has on the project or research in general, and we will co-develop expectations for each meeting.


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