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22-21. Multi-hazard, statistical analysis of extreme geophysical events

Extremely large (and impactful) geophysical events occur only rarely. As a result, it is difficult to estimate their occurrence frequency and geographic expression. Generalized statistical methods can be specialized using physical principles to improve the accuracy of hazard and risk estimates. 

Description of the Research Opportunity

Applications are invited for a Mendenhall post-doctoral fellowship involving statistical analyses of the geographic expression, occurrence frequency, and/or impact of extreme (and rare) geophysical events, such as earthquakes, earthquake ground motion, magnetic storms, induced geoelectric fields, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc. Applicants are encouraged to review the literature on statistical treatments of historical data recording extreme geophysical events. Then, depending on what is found in the literature, the applicant should submit a proposal that introduces one or more statistical extensions to previous work that (1) will improve upon published results, (2) are physically plausible, and, (3) which, because of their generality, can be applied to more than one type of geophysical hazard. For example, an applicant might develop general arguments that can motivate choosing light or heavy distributional tail parameters. Alternatively, an applicant might develop arguments that motivate the choice of certain classes of Bayesian priors. Other topics might include, estimation of upper bounds on extreme-event sizes (if upper bounds are realistic), inversion methods that combine extreme-value distributions and inter-event times, non-Poisson statistics, joint inversion of multiple types of data, analysis methods accommodating non-stationary statistics, such as trends or temporal modulation, etc. 

Under the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, the US Geological Survey (USGS), among other agencies, is authorized to implement "earthquake hazards reduction measures".  Under the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow (PROSWIFT) Act of 2020, the Department of the Interior (and the USGS) is noted as responsible for assessing "risks from space-weather-induced electric ground currents". The strategic plan of the USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area should is given by Holmes et al. (2013).  

Proposals should be accompanied by a work plan, notation of relevance to the mission and authorizations of the USGS, a general work schedule, and a budget covering needed travel (including between USGS centers and to conferences), computers, and software.  

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas. 



Holmes, R. R., Jones, L. M., Eidenshink, J. C., Godt, J. W., Kirby, S. H., Love, J. J., Neal, C. A., Plant, N. G., Plunkett, M. L., Weaver, C. S., Wein, A. & Perry, S. C., 2013. U.S. Geological Survey Natural Hazards Science Strategy—Promoting the Safety, Security, and Economic Well-Being of the Nation, USGS Circular, 1383–F, 79 p.,


Proposed Duty Station(s)

Golden, Colorado

Moffett Field, California 


Areas of PhD

Geophysics, Earth science, physics, space science, applied mathematics, statistics, engineering, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to this research opportunity, may be considered). 



Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications:  Research Geophysicist, Research Engineer, Research Statistician 

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)