Landers Rupture — Sue on her role after the earthquake and seismic monitoring in Southern CA
USGS seismologist Susan Hough talks about her role following the 1992 Landers earthquake and seismic monitoring stations in Southern California.
My part of the science back then involved installing portable seismometers, so especially because of the limitations of the network, after an earthquake happened, one of the things that some seismologists do is head out in the field to install portable seismometers, and we basically use aftershocks that we know are going to happen as sources, so you can design an experiment to go explore different focused issues. There had been the Joshua tree earthquake in April that was really the start of the sequence – the magnitude 6.1 on April 23rd that was somewhat north of Palm Springs within the Joshua tree National Monument. A number of groups went out including me and some of my USGS colleagues to install these portable seismometers and they were more important than they are now because the network was more limited. So those instruments were out – there were five or six of them – and we kept them out there as the aftershocks of Joshua tree were winding down but we kept maintaining them and I was driving to the desert every few weeks probably because – talk about antiquated technology – these great big heavy boxes that recorded data on magnetic tapes. So, there was no telemetry just these clunky old tapes. Oh, so they were run by car batteries so that was fun you had to lug car batteries to wherever the station was and change the tapes so then when Landers hit those instruments were still in place so I after I and woke up and went into the office very quickly the immediate priority was to get myself out to the desert and recover those tapes and see what they had recorded. And, in fact, they had. The five or six instruments had recorded not only the Landers main shock but most of the early aftershocks, so that was an important additional source of data. And then I was focused on analyzing those recordings.