Katherine (Kate) Scharer


Dr. Scharer holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington.  Prior to coming to the USGS, she was a professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.  Dr. Scharer studies the timing and size of pre-historic earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault and other active faults in southern California, Alaska, and the Dominican Republic. She also investigates the deformation produced by tectonic motion through a combination of field mapping, lidar analysis, and Quaternary geochronologic methods. 

More about the study of pre-historic earthquakes, or paleoseismology: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/earthquake-hazards/science/introduction-paleoseismology

Focus on fault activity in California: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/earthquake-hazards/science/back-future-san-andreas-fault

Map of historic ruptures in California, 1850-2016: https://www.usgs.gov/atom/93578



Burgette, R. J., Hanson, A. M., Scharer, K. M., Rittenour, T. M., & McPhillips, D., 2020. Late Quaternary slip rate of the Central Sierra Madre fault, southern California: Implications for slip partitioning and earthquake hazard. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 530, 115907. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115907

Biasi, G., Scharer, K., 2019. The Current Unlikely Earthquake Hiatus at California’s Transform Boundary Paleoseismic Sites, Seismological Research Letters, 90, 1168-1176. https://doi.org/10.1785/0220180244

Scharer, K., Streig, A., 2019. The San Andreas Fault System: Complexities along a major transform fault system and relation to earthquake hazards, in Transform Plate Boundaries and Fracture Zones, Duarte, J. (ed), Elsevier, 249-269. ISBN 978-0-12-812064-4

McPhillips, D., Scharer, K., 2018. Quantifying uncertainty in cumulative surface slip along the Cucamonga Fault, a crustal thrust fault in southern California. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123, 9063-9083 https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JB016301

Lindvall, S., Kerwin, S., Heron, C., Davis, C., Tyson, J., Chestnut, J., Mass, K., Farr, M., Scharer, K., McPhillips, D., 2018. Characterizing the Los Angeles Aqueduct crossing of the San Andreas Fault for improved earthquake resilience, in Proceedings of the 11th National Conference in Earthquake Engineering, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA. 24 p.

Scharer, K., Weldon, R., Biasi, G., Streig, A., Fumal, T., 2017. Ground-rupturing earthquakes on the northern Big Bend of the San Andreas Fault, California, 800 A.D. to Present, Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth, 122, 2193-2218, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016JB013606

Briggs, R., and Scharer, K., From research to risk reduction, in Huntington, K.W., and Klepeis, K.A., with 66 community contributors, 2018. Challenges and opportunities for research in tectonics: Understanding deformation and the processes that link Earth systems, from geologic time to human time. A community vision document submitted to the U.S. National Science Foundation. University of Washington, 84 pp., https://doi.org/10.6069/H52R3PQ5.

Leeper, R., Rhodes, B., Kirby, M., Scharer, K., Carlin, J., Hemphill-Haley, E., Avnaim-Katav, S., MacDonald, G., Starrat, S., Aranda, A., 2017. Evidence for coseismic subsidence events in a southern California coastal saltmarsh, Scientific Reports, 7, 44615, doi:10.1038/srep44615.

Rockwell, T., Scharer, K., Dawson, T., 2016. Paleoseismology of the San Andreas Fault Zone, in Applied Geology of California, Anderson, R. and Ferriz, R. (eds), Association of Environmental and Engineering Geology Special Publication Number 26,  721-756.

Biasi, G., Scharer, K., Weldon, R., Dawson, T., 2016. Does paleoseismology forecast the historic rates of large earthquakes on the San Andreas fault system? 7th International INQUA Meeting on Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics, and Archeoseismology, 38-41. http://www.earthquakegeology.com/materials/proceedings/2016_Crestone.pdf

Scharer, K., Weldon, R., and Bemis, S., 2016. Testing geomorphology-derived rupture histories against the paleoseismic record of the southern San Andreas fault, 7th International INQUA Meeting on Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics, and Archeoseismology, 216-219.

Bemis, S., Scharer, K., Dolan, J., Rhodes, E., 2016. The Elizabeth Lake paleoseismic site: Rupture pattern constraints for the past ~800 years for the Mojave section of the south-central San Andreas Fault, 7th International INQUA Meeting on Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics, and Archeoseismology, 277-280.

Burgette, R., Hanson, A., Scharer, K., Midttun, N., 2016. Late Quaternary offset of alluvial fan surfaces along the Central Sierra Madre Fault, Southern California, 7th International INQUA Meeting on Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics, and Archeoseismology, 50-53.

Scharer, K., Fumal, T., Weldon, R., Streig, A., 2015. Photomosaics and event evidence from the Frazier Mountain paleoseismic site, trench 1, cuts 5–24, San Andreas Fault Zone, southern California (2010–2012): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1147, 25 p., 3 sheets, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151147.

Brocher, T., Baltay, A., Hardebeck, J., Pollitz, F., Murray, J., Llenos, A., Schwartz, D., Blair, J., Ponti, D., Lienkaemper, J., Langenheim, V., Dawson, T., Hudnut, K., Shelly, D., Dreger, D., Boatwright, J., Aagaard, B., Wald, D., Allen, R., Barnhart, W., Knudsen, K., Brooks, B., Scharer, K., 2015. The Mw6.0 24 August 2014 South Napa Earthquake, Seismological Research Letters, 86, 344-354.

Salisbury, J. B., Haddad, D. E., Rockwell, T., Arrowsmith, J R., Madugo, C., Zielke, O., Scharer, K., 2015. Validation of meter-scale surface faulting offset measurements from high-resolution topographic data, Geosphere, 11, no. 6, p. 1–18, doi:10.1130/GES01197.1.

Scharer, K., Weldon, R., Streig, A., Fumal, T., 2014. Paleoearthquakes at Frazier Mountain, California delimit extent and frequency of past San Andreas Fault ruptures along 1857 trace, Geophysical Research Letters, 41, 4527-4534.

Johnson, K., Nissen, E., Saripalli, S., Arrowsmith, J, McGarey, P., Scharer, K., Williams, P., Blisniuk, K., 2014. Rapid mapping of ultrafine fault zone topography with structure from motion, Geosphere, 10, 1-18.

Scharer, K.M., Salisbury, J.B., Arrowsmith, J R., Rockwell, T.K., 2014. Southern San Andreas Fault Evaluation field activity: Approaches to measuring small geomorphic offsets – Challenges and recommendations for active fault studies, Seismological Research Letters, 85, 68-76.

Scharer, K.M., Fumal, T.E., Weldon, R.J., Streig, A.R., 2014. Photomosaics and event evidence from the Frazier Mountain paleoseismic site, Trench 1, Cuts 14, San Andreas Fault Zone, Southern California (2007-2009), U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1002, 4 sheets, various scales, pamphlet 23 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2014/1002/.

Elliot, J.R., Copley, A.C., Holley, R., Scharer, K., Parsons, B., 2013. The 2011 Mw7.1 Van (Eastern Turkey) earthquake, Journal of Geophysical Research, 118, 1619-1637.

Hales, T.C., Scharer, K.M., Wooten, R.M., 2012. Southern Appalachian hillslope erosion rates measured by soil and detrital radiocarbon in hollows, Geomorphology, 138, 121-129.

Scharer, K.M., Biasi, G.P., Weldon, R.J., 2011. A reevaluation of the Pallett Creek earthquake chronology based on new AMS radiocarbon dates, San Andreas fault, California, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, B12111.

Biasi, G.P., Weldon, R.J., and Scharer, K.M., 2011. Rupture length and paleomagnitude estimates from point measurements of displacement – A model-based approach, in Geological Criteria for Evaluating Seismicity Revisited: Forty Years of Paleoseismic Investigations and the Natural Record of Past Earthquakes, GSA Special Publication 479, 195-204

Scharer, K.M., Biasi, G.P., Weldon, R.J., Fumal, T.E., 2010. Quasi-periodic recurrence of large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault, Geology, 38, 555-558.

Scharer, K.M., 2010. Changing views of the San Andreas fault, Science. 327, 1089.

Philibosian, B., Fumal, T. E., Weldon II, R. J., Kendrick, K. J., Scharer, K. M., Bemis, S. P., Burgette, R. J., and Wisely, B. A., 2009. Photomosaics and logs of trenches on the San Andreas Fault near Coachella, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1039, 2 sheets [http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1039/].

Scharer, K.M., Weldon, R. J. II, Fumal, T. E., Biasi, G. P., 2007. Paleoearthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault, Wrightwood, CA 3000 to 1500 B.C.: a new method for evaluating paleoseismic evidence and earthquake horizons, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 97, 1054-1093.

Chen, J., Heermance, R., Burbank, D., Scharer, K., Wang, C., 2007. Quantification of growth and lateral propagation of the Kashi anticline, southwest Chinese Tian Shan, Journal of Geophysical Research – Special Section on Fault-Related Folding, 112, B03S16.

Scharer, K. M., Burbank, D. W., Chen, J., Weldon, R. J., 2006.  Kinematic models of fluvial terraces over active detachment folds: Constraints on the growth mechanism of the Kashi-Atushi fold system, Chinese Tian Shan, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 118, 1006-1021.

Weldon, R. J, Fumal, T. E., Biasi, G. P., Scharer, K. M., 2005. Past and future earthquakes on the San Andreas fault, Science, 308, 966 – 967.

Scharer, K. M., Burbank, D. W., Chen, J., Weldon, R. J., Rubin, C., Zhao, R., Shen, J., 2004.  Detachment folding in the Southwestern Tian Shan - Tarim foreland, China; Shortening estimates and rates, Journal of Structural Geology, 26(11), 2119-2137.

Weldon, R. J, Scharer, K. M., Fumal, T. E., Biasi, G. P., 2004.  Wrightwood and the earthquake cycle: what a long recurrence record tells us about how faults work, GSA Today, 14(9), 4-10.

Weldon, R. J., Fletcher, D. K., Weldon, E. M., Scharer, K. M., McCrory, P. A., 2003. An update of Quaternary faults of central and eastern Oregon, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-301, 26 map sheets, scale 1:100,000, 1 CD-ROM.

Weldon, R. J. II, Fumal, T. E., Powers, T. J., Pezzopane, S. K., Scharer, K. M., Hamilton, J. C., 2002. Structure and earthquake offsets on the San Andreas fault at the Wrightwood, California paleoseismic site, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 92, 2704-2725.

Chen, J., Burbank, D. W., Scharer, K. M., Sobel, E., Jinhui, Y., Rubin, C., Ruibin, Z., 2002. Magnetochronology of the upper Cenozoic strata in the southwestern Chinese Tian Shan; rates of Pleistocene folding and thrusting, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 195(1-2), 113-130.

Jayko, A., Green, N., Scharer, K. M., 1996. Plio-Pleistocene strain rates associated with regional folding, Sonoma California, in Toward Assessing the Seismic Risk Associated with Blind Thrust Faults, San Francisco Bay Region, California, U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report # 096-0267.