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Ken Hudnut is the Science Advisor for Risk Reduction for the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). He ensures that USGS hazards science is being applied to help solve societally relevant problems. To help understand the San Andreas Fault system and the behavior of faults in general, he has studied earthquakes worldwide using satellite & airborne imagery along with field work to provide ground truth. In 2017, he received the Ivan I. Mueller Award for distinguished service and leadership from the American Geophysical Union. In 2018 he will receive the Meritorious Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has served as a geophysicist studying earthquakes for the USGS office in Pasadena, California since 1992. He is a Visiting Associate in Geophysics at Caltech and a lecturer on engineering geology in Civil & Environmental Engineering at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1989, and his A.B. (high honors) from Dartmouth in 1983.
Science and Products
Science for a risky world—A U.S. Geological Survey plan for risk research and applications
Executive SummaryNatural hazards—including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires, geomagnetic storms, and pandemics—can wreak havoc on human communities, the economy, and natural resources for years following an initial event. Hazards can claim lives and cause billions of dollars in damage...Ludwig, K.A.; Ramsey, David W.; Wood, Nathan J.; Pennaz, A.B.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Plant, Nathaniel G.; Luco, Nicolas; Koenig, Todd A.; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Davis, Donyelle K.; Bright, Patricia R.
The HayWired earthquake scenario—We can outsmart disaster
The HayWired earthquake scenario, led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), anticipates the impacts of a hypothetical magnitude-7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault. The fault is along the east side of California’s San Francisco Bay and is among the most active and dangerous in the United States, because it runs through a densely urbanized and...Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Wein, Anne M.; Cox, Dale A.; Porter, Keith A.; Johnson, Laurie A.; Perry, Suzanne C.; Bruce, Jennifer L.; LaPointe, Drew
Buried shallow fault slip from the South Napa earthquake revealed by near-field geodesy
Earthquake-related fault slip in the upper hundreds of meters of Earth’s surface has remained largely unstudied because of challenges measuring deformation in the near field of a fault rupture. We analyze centimeter-scale accuracy mobile laser scanning (MLS) data of deformed vine rows within ±300 m of the principal surface expression of the M...Brooks, Benjamin A.; Minson, Sarah E.; Glennie, Craig L.; Nevitt, Johanna; Dawson, Timothy E.; Rubin, Ron S.; Ericksen, Todd; Lockner, David A.; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Langenheim, Victoria; Lutz, Andrew; Murray, Jessica R.; Schwartz, David P.; Zaccone, Dana
Tearing the terroir: Details and implications of surface rupture and deformation from the 24 August 2014 M6.0 South Napa earthquake, California
The Mw 6.0 South Napa earthquake of 24 August 2014 caused slip on several active fault strands within the West Napa Fault Zone (WNFZ). Field mapping identified 12.5 km of surface rupture. These field observations, near-field geodesy and space geodesy, together provide evidence for more than ~30 km of surface deformation with a relatively complex...DeLong, Stephen B.; Donnellan, Andrea; Ponti, Daniel J.; Rubin, Ron S.; Lienkaemper, James J.; Prentice, Carol S.; Dawson, Timothy E.; Seitz, Gordon G.; Schwartz, David P.; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Rosa, Carla M.; Pickering, Alexandra J; Parker, Jay W.
The 2014 Mw6.1 South Napa Earthquake: A unilateral rupture with shallow asperity and rapid afterslip
The Mw6.1 South Napa earthquake occurred near Napa, California on August 24, 2014 (UTC), and was the largest inland earthquake in Northern California since the 1989 Mw6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake. The first report of the earthquake from the Northern California Earthquake Data Center (NCEDC) indicates a hypocentral depth of 11.0km with longitude and...Wei, Shengji; Barbot, Sylvain; Graves, Robert; Lienkaemper, James J.; Wang, Teng; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Fu, Yuning; Helmberger, Don
Rapid damage mapping for the 2015 M7.8 Gorkha earthquake using synthetic aperture radar data from COSMO-SkyMed and ALOS-2 satellites
The 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake caused more than 8000 fatalities and widespread building damage in central Nepal. The Italian Space Agency’s COSMO–SkyMed Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite acquired data over Kathmandu area four days after the earthquake and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s...Yun, Sang-Ho; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Owen, Susan; Webb, Frank; Simons, Mark; Sacco, Patrizia; Gurrola, Eric; Manipon, Gerald; Liang, Cunren; Fielding, Eric; Milillo, Pietro; Hua, Hook; Coletta, Alessandro
Slip pulse and resonance of Kathmandu basin during the 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake, Nepal imaged with space geodesy
Detailed geodetic imaging of earthquake rupture enhances our understanding of earthquake physics and induced ground shaking. The April 25, 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake is the first example of a large continental megathrust rupture beneath a high-rate (5 Hz) GPS network. We use GPS and InSAR data to model the earthquake rupture as a slip...Galetzka, John; Melgar, D.; Genrich, J.F.; Geng, J.; Owen, S.; Lindsey, E. O.; Xu, X.; Bock, Y.; Avouac, J.-P.; Adhikari, L. B.; Upreti, B. N.; Pratt-Sitaula, B.; Bhattarai, T. N.; Sitaula, B. P.; Moore, A.; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Szeliga, W.; Normandeau, J.; Fend, M.; Flouzat, M; Bollinger, L.; Shrestha, P.; Koirala, B.; Gautam, U.; Bhatterai, M.; Gupta, R.; Kandel, T.; Timsina, C.; Sapkota, S.N.; Rajaure, S.; Maharjan, N.
Geologic and structural controls on rupture zone fabric: A field-based study of the 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor–Cucapah earthquake surface rupture
We systematically mapped (scales >1:500) the surface rupture of the 4 April 2010 Mw (moment magnitude) 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake through the Sierra Cucapah (Baja California, northwestern Mexico) to understand how faults with similar structural and lithologic characteristics control rupture zone fabric, which is here defined by the...Teran, Orlando; Fletcher, John L.; Oskin, Michael; Rockwell, Thomas; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Spelz, Ronald; Akciz, Sinan; Hernandez-Flores, Ana Paula; Morelan, Alexander
The Mw6.0 24 August 2014 South Napa earthquake
The Mw 6.0 South Napa earthquake, which occurred at 10:20 UTC 24 August 2014 was the largest earthquake to strike the greater San Francisco Bay area since the Mw 6.9 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The rupture from this right‐lateral earthquake propagated mostly unilaterally to the north and up‐dip, directing the strongest shaking...Brocher, Thomas M.; Baltay, Annemarie S.; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.; Pollitz, Fred F.; Murray, Jessica R.; Llenos, Andrea L.; Schwartz, David P.; Blair, James Luke; Ponti, Daniel J.; Lienkaemper, James J.; Langenheim, V.E.; Dawson, Timothy E.; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Shelly, David R.; Dreger, Douglas S.; Boatwright, John; Aagaard, Brad T.; Wald, David J.; Allen, Richard M.; Barnhart, William D.; Knudsen, Keith L.; Brooks, Benjamin A.; Scharer, Katherine M.
Key recovery factors for the August 24, 2014, South Napa Earthquake
Through discussions between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) following the South Napa earthquake, it was determined that several key decision points would be faced by FEMA for which additional information should be sought and provided by USGS and its partners. This report addresses the four tasks...Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Brocher, Thomas M.; Prentice, Carol S.; Boatwright, John; Brooks, Benjamin A.; Aagaard, Brad T.; Blair, James Luke; Fletcher, Jon Peter B.; Erdem, Jemile; Wicks, Chuck; Murray, Jessica R.; Pollitz, Fred F.; Langbein, John O.; Svarc, Jerry L.; Schwartz, David P.; Ponti, Daniel J.; Hecker, Suzanne; DeLong, Stephen B.; Rosa, Carla M.; Jones, Brenda; Lamb, Rynn M.; Rosinski, Anne M.; McCrink, Timothy P.; Dawson, Timothy E.; Seitz, Gordon G.; Glennie, Craig; Hauser, Darren; Ericksen, Todd; Mardock, Dan; Hoirup, Don F.; Bray, Jonathan D.; Rubin, Ron S.
Quantitative study of tectonic geomorphology along Haiyuan fault based on airborne LiDAR
High-precision and high-resolution topography are the fundamental data for active fault research. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) presents a new approach to build detailed digital elevation models effectively. We take the Haiyuan fault in Gansu Province as an example of how LiDAR data may be used to improve the study of active faults and the...Chen, Tao; Zhang, Pei Zhen; Liu, Jing; Li, Chuan You; Ren, Zhi Kun; Hudnut, Kenneth W.
Mobile laser scanning applied to the earth sciences
Lidar (light detection and ranging), a method by which the precise time of flight of emitted pulses of laser energy is measured and converted to distance for reflective targets, has helped scientists make topographic maps of Earth's surface at scales as fine as centimeters. These maps have allowed the discovery and analysis of myriad otherwise...Brooks, Benjamin A.; Glennie, Craig; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Ericksen, Todd; Hauser, Darren
USGS collaborates with key academic, state, local, and industry partners to provide a new look at what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.