Rich Briggs

My work focuses on the geology and seismotectonics of large earthquakes, with the goal of understanding how, where, and why they happen.  


Research Focus

I characterize active faults for seismic hazard analysis. This requires grappling with structures and processes that control earthquakes. I also work with the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) to respond to large earthquakes by conducting rapid field studies and analyzing remote sensing products.

Professional Preparation

BS, Geologic and Environmental Science, Stanford University, 1999
PhD, Geology, Center for Neotectonic Studies, University of Nevada, Reno, 2004
Postdoctoral Scholar, Tectonics Observatory, California Institute of Technology, 2005-2008

Professional Experience

Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Golden, CO, 2008-present
Geologist, Synergetics Incorporated, Fort Collins, CO (contracted to USGS), 2008




DuRoss, C. B., R. D. Gold, R. W. Briggs, J. E. Delano, D. A. Ostenaa, M. S. Zellman, N. Cholewinski, S. J. Wittke, and S. A. Mahan (2019), Holocene earthquake history and slip rate of the southern Teton fault, Wyoming, USA, GSA Bulletin, in press.

Valentini, A., C. B. DuRoss, E. H. Field, R. D. Gold, R. W. Briggs, F. Visini, and B. Pace (2019), Relaxing Segmentation on the Wasatch Fault Zone: Impact on Seismic Hazard, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, in press.

Reitman, N. G., K. J. Mueller, G. E. Tucker, R. D. Gold, R. W. Briggs, and K. R. Barnhart (2019), Offset channels may not accurately record strike-slip fault displacement: Evidence from landscape evolution models, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, in press.

Gold, R. D., C. B. DuRoss, J. E. Delano, R. W. Jibson, R. W. Briggs, S. A. Mahan, R. A. Williams, and D. R. Corbett (2019), Four Major Holocene Earthquakes on the Reelfoot Fault Recorded by Sackungen in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, USA, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 124(3), 3105-3126.

Gold, R. D., D. Clark, W. D. Barnhart, T. King, M. Quigley, and R. W. Briggs (2019), Surface Rupture and Distributed Deformation Revealed by Optical Satellite Imagery: The Intraplate 2016 Mw 6.0 Petermann Ranges Earthquake, Australia, Geophysical Research Letters, 46(17-18), 10394-10403.

DuRoss, C. B., M. P. Bunds, R. D. Gold, R. W. Briggs, N. G. Reitman, S. F. Personius, and N. A. Toké (2019), Variable normal-fault rupture behavior, northern Lost River fault zone, Idaho, USA, Geosphere, 15(6), 1869-1892.

Barnhart, W. D., R. D. Gold, H. N. Shea, K. E. Peterson, R. W. Briggs, and D. J. Harbor (2019), Vertical Coseismic Offsets Derived From High-Resolution Stereogrammetric DSM Differencing: The 2013 Baluchistan, Pakistan Earthquake, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 124(6), 6039-6055.

Witter, R., Briggs, R.,  Engelhart, S.E., Gelfenbaum, G., Koehler, R.D., Nelson, A., La Selle, S., Corbett, R., Wallace, K. (2018). Evidence for frequent, large tsunamis spanning locked and creeping parts of the Aleutian megathrust. GSA Bulletin doi:

Levandowski, W., Herrmann, R.B., Briggs, R., Boyd, O., and Gold, R. (2018), An updated stress map of the continental United States reveals heterogeneous intraplate stress: Nature Geoscience, v. 11, no. 6, p. 433-437.

DuRoss, Christopher B.,  Scott E. K. Bennett, Richard W. Briggs, Stephen F. Personius, Ryan D. Gold, Nadine G. Reitman, Adam I. Hiscock, Shannon A. Mahan (2018); Combining Conflicting Bayesian Models to Develop Paleoseismic Records: An Example from the Wasatch Fault Zone, Utah. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America doi:

S. E. K. Bennett, C. B. DuRoss, R. D. Gold, R. W. Briggs, S. F. Personius, N. G. Reitman, J. R. Devore, A. I. Hiscock, S. A. Mahan, H. J. Gray, S. Gunnarson, W. J. Stephenson, E. Pettinger, J. K. Odum (2018); Paleoseismic Results from the Alpine Site, Wasatch Fault Zone: Timing and Displacement Data for Six Holocene Earthquakes at the Salt Lake City–Provo Segment Boundary. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America doi:

M. P. Moschetti, N. Luco, A. D. Frankel, M. D. Petersen, B. T. Aagaard, A. S. Baltay, M. L. Blanpied, O. S. Boyd, R. W. Briggs, R. D. Gold, R. W. Graves, S. H. Hartzell, S. Rezaeian, W. J. Stephenson, D. J. Wald, R. A. Williams, K. B. Withers (2018); Integrate Urban‐Scale Seismic Hazard Analyses with the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Model. Seismological Research Letters ; 89 (3): 967–970. doi:

Hayes, G.P., Myers, E.K., Dewey, J.W., Briggs, R.W., Earle, P.S., Benz, H.M., Smoczyk, G.M., Flamme, H.E., Barnhart, W.D., Gold, R.D., and Furlong, K.P. (2017). Tectonic summaries of magnitude 7 and greater earthquakes from 2000 to 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1192, 148 p.,

Gold, R.D., Briggs, R.W., Crone, A.J., DuRoss, C.B. Refining fault slip rates using multiple displaced terrace risers—An example from the Honey Lake fault, NE California, USA (2017) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 477, pp. 134-146. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.08.021

Hayes, G.P., Briggs, R.W. Introduction to the special issue on the 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha (Nepal) earthquake (2017) Tectonophysics, 714-715, pp. 1-3.   DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.10.033

Levandowski, W., Zellman, M., Briggs, R. Gravitational body forces focus North American intraplate earthquakes (2017) Nature Communications, 8, art. no. 14314. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14314

Personius, S.F., Briggs, R.W., Zebulon Maharrey, J., Angster, S.J., Mahan, S.A. A paleoseismic transect across the northwestern Basin and Range Province, northwestern Nevada and northeastern California, USA, (2017). Geosphere, 13 (3), pp. 782-810.  DOI: 10.1130/GES01380.1

Barnhart, W.D., Murray, J.R., Briggs, R.W., Gomez, F., Miles, C.P.J., Svarc, J., Riquelme, S., Stressler, B.J. Coseismic slip and early afterslip of the 2015 Illapel, Chile, earthquake: Implications for frictional heterogeneity and coastal uplift (2016) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 121 (8), pp. 6172-6191.   DOI: 10.1002/2016JB013124

Briggs, R. Earthquakes: Megathrusts and mountain building (2016) Nature Geoscience, 9 (5), pp. 346-348.  DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2697

Witter, R.C., Carver, G.A., Briggs, R.W., Gelfenbaum, G., Koehler, R.D., La Selle, S., Bender, A.M., Engelhart, S.E., Hemphill-Haley, E., Hill, T.D. Unusually large tsunamis frequent a currently creeping part of the Aleutian megathrust (2016) Geophysical Research Letters, 43 (1), pp. 76-84.   DOI: 10.1002/2015GL066083

Wesnousky, S.G., Briggs, R.W., Caffee, M.W., Ryerson, F.J., Finkel, R.C., Owen, L.A. Terrestrial cosmogenic surface exposure dating of glacial and associated landforms in the Ruby Mountains-East Humboldt Range of central Nevada and along the northeastern flank of the Sierra Nevada (2016) Geomorphology, 268, pp. 72-81.   DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.04.027

Gagan, M.K., Sosdian, S.M., Scott-Gagan, H., Sieh, K., Hantoro, W.S., Natawidjaja, D.H., Briggs, R.W., Suwargadi, B.W., Rifai, H. Coral 13C/12C records of vertical seafloor displacement during megathrust earthquakes west of Sumatra (2015) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 432, pp. 461-471.  DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.10.002

Levandowski, W., Boyd, O.S., Briggs, R.W., Gold, R.D. A random-walk algorithm for modeling lithospheric density and the role of body forces in the evolution of the Midcontinent Rift (2015) Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 16 (12), pp. 4084-4107.  DOI: 10.1002/2015GC005961

Meltzner, A.J., Sieh, K., Chiang, H.-W., Wu, C.-C., Tsang, L.L.H., Shen, C.-C., Hill, E.M., Suwargadi, B.W., Natawidjaja, D.H., Philibosian, B., Briggs, R.W. Time-varying interseismic strain rates and similar seismic ruptures on the Nias-Simeulue patch of the Sunda megathrust (2015) Quaternary Science Reviews, 122, pp. 258-281.   DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.06.003

Barnhart, W.D., Briggs, R.W., Reitman, N.G., Gold, R.D., Hayes, G.P. Evidence for slip partitioning and bimodal slip behavior on a single fault: Surface slip characteristics of the 2013 Mw7.7 Balochistan, Pakistan earthquake (2015) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 420, pp. 1-11.   DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.03.027

Mueller, C.S., Briggs, R.W., Wesson, R.L., Petersen, M.D. Updating the USGS seismic hazard maps for Alaska (2015) Quaternary Science Reviews, 113, pp. 39-47.   DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.006

Kelsey, H.M., Witter, R.C., Engelhart, S.E., Briggs, R., Nelson, A., Haeussler, P., Corbett, D. Beach ridges as paleoseismic indicators of abrupt coastal subsidence during subduction zone earthquakes, and implications for Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone paleoseismology, southeast coast of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska (2015) Quaternary Science Reviews, 113, pp. 147-158.  DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.01.006

Reitman, N.G., Bennett, S.E.K., Gold, R.D., Briggs, R.W., DuRoss, C.B. High-resolution trench photomosaics from image-based modeling: Workflow and error analysis (2015) Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 105 (5), pp. 2354-2366.  DOI: 10.1785/0120150041

Gold, R.D., Reitman, N.G., Briggs, R.W., Barnhart, W.D., Hayes, G.P., Wilson, E. On- and off-fault deformation associated with the September 2013 Mw 7.7 Balochistan earthquake: Implications for geologic slip rate measurements (2015) Tectonophysics, 660, pp. 65-78.   DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2015.08.019

Nelson, A.R., Briggs, R.W., Dura, T., Engelhart, S.E., Gelfenbaum, G., Bradley, L.-A., Forman, S.L., Vane, C.H., Kelley, K.A. Tsunami recurrence in the eastern Alaska-Aleutian arc: A Holocene stratigraphic record from Chirikof Island, Alaska (2015) Geosphere, 11 (4), pp. 1172-1203. DOI: 10.1130/GES01108.1

McNamara, D.E., Hayes, G.P., Benz, H.M., Williams, R.A., McMahon, N.D., Aster, R.C., Holland, A., Sickbert, T., Herrmann, R., Briggs, R., Smoczyk, G., Bergman, E., Earle, P. Reactivated faulting near Cushing, Oklahoma: Increased potential for a triggered earthquake in an area of United States strategic infrastructure (2015) Geophysical Research Letters, 42 (20), pp. 8328-8332.  DOI: 10.1002/2015GL064669

Hayes, G.P., Briggs, R.W., Barnhart, W.D., Yeck, W.L., McNamara, D.E., Wald, D.J., Nealy, J.L., Benz, H.M., Gold, R.D., Jaiswal, K.S., Marano, K., Earle, P.S., Hearne, M.G., Smoczyk, G.M., Wald, L.A., Samsonov, S.V. Rapid characterization of the 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha, Nepal, Earthquake sequence and its seismotectonic context (2015) Seismological Research Letters, 86 (6), pp. 1557-1567.  DOI: 10.1785/0220150145

Barnhart, W.D., Hayes, G.P., Briggs, R.W., Gold, R.D., Bilham, R. Ball-and-socket tectonic rotation during the 2013 Mw7.7 Balochistan earthquake (2014) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 403, pp. 210-216.   DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.07.001

Witter, R.C., Briggs, R.W., Engelhart, S.E., Gelfenbaum, G., Koehler, R.D., Barnhart, W.D. Little late Holocene strain accumulation and release on the Aleutian megathrust below the Shumagin Islands, Alaska (2014) Geophysical Research Letters, 41 (7), pp. 2359-2367.  DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059393

Briggs, R.W., Engelhart, S.E., Nelson, A.R., Dura, T., Kemp, A.C., Haeussler, P.J., Corbett, D.R., Angster, S.J., Bradley, L.-A. Uplift and subsidence reveal a nonpersistent megathrust rupture boundary (Sitkinak Island, Alaska) (2014) Geophysical Research Letters, 41 (7), pp. 2289-2296.   DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059380

Gold, R.D., Briggs, R.W., Personius, S.F., Crone, A.J., Mahan, S.A., Angster, S.J. Latest Quaternary paleoseismology and evidence of distributed dextral shear along the Mohawk Valley fault zone, northern Walker Lane, California (2014) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 119 (6), pp. 5014-5032.   DOI: 10.1002/2014JB010987

Personius, S.F., Briggs, R.W., Nelson, A.R., Schermer, E.R., Zebulon Maharrey, J., Sherrod, B.L., Spaulding, S.A., Bradley, L.-A. Holocene earthquakes and right-lateral slip on the left-lateral Darrington-Devils Mountain fault zone, northern Puget Sound, Washington (2014) Geosphere, 10 (6), pp. 1482-1500.   DOI: 10.1130/GES01067.1

Gold, R.D., Stephenson, W.J., Odum, J.K., Briggs, R.W., Crone, A.J., Angster, S.J. Concealed Quaternary strike-slip fault resolved with airborne lidar and seismic reflection: The Grizzly Valley fault system, northern Walker Lane, California (2013) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 118 (7), pp. 3753-3766. DOI: 10.1002/jgrb.50238

Gold, R., Depolo, C., Briggs, R., Crone, A., Gosse, J. Late quaternary slip-rate variations along the warm springs valley fault system, northern walker lane, California-Nevada border (2013) Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 103 (1), pp. 542-558. DOI: 10.1785/0120120020

Briggs, R.W., Wesnousky, S.G., Brune, J.N., Purvance, M.D., Mahan, S.A. Low footwall accelerations and variable surface rupture behavior on the fort sage mountains fault, Northeast California (2013) Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 103 (1), pp. 157-168.   DOI: 10.1785/0120110313

Kemp, A.C., Engelhart, S.E., Culver, S.J., Nelson, A., Briggs, R.W., Haeussler, P.J. Modern salt-marsh and tidal-flat foraminifera from Sitkinak and Simeonof Islands, Southwestern Alaska (2013) Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 43 (1), pp. 88-98.  DOI: 10.2113/gsjfr.43.1.88

Meltzner, A.J., Sieh, K., Chiang, H.-W., Shen, C.-C., Suwargadi, B.W., Natawidjaja, D.H., Philibosian, B., Briggs, R.W. Persistent termini of 2004- and 2005-like ruptures of the Sunda megathrust (2012) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 117 (4), art. no. B04405.   DOI: 10.1029/2011JB008888

Wei, S., Fielding, E., Leprince, S., Sladen, A., Avouac, J.-P., Helmberger, D., Hauksson, E., Chu, R., Simons, M., Hudnut, K., Herring, T., Briggs, R. Superficial simplicity of the 2010 El Mayorg-Cucapah earthquake of Baja California in Mexico (2011) Nature Geoscience, 4 (9), pp. 615-618.   DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1213

Hayes, G.P., Earle, P.S., Benz, H.M., Wald, D.J., Briggs, R.W. 88 Hours: The U.S. Geological survey national earthquake information center response to the 11 march 2011 Mw 9.0 tohoku earthquake (2011) Seismological Research Letters, 82 (4), pp. 481-493.  DOI: 10.1785/gssrl.82.4.481

Prentice, C.S., Mann, P., Crone, A.J., Gold, R.D., Hudnut, K.W., Briggs, R.W., Koehler, R.D., Jean, P. Seismic hazard of the Enriquillog-Plantain Garden fault in Haiti inferred from palaeoseismology (2010) Nature Geoscience, 3 (11), pp. 789-793.  DOI: 10.1038/ngeo991

Hayes, G.P., Briggs, R.W., Sladen, A., Fielding, E.J., Prentice, C., Hudnut, K., Mann, P., Taylor, F.W., Crone, A.J., Gold, R., Ito, T., Simons, M. Complex rupture during the 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake (2010) Nature Geoscience, 3 (11), pp. 800-805.  DOI: 10.1038/ngeo977

Hornbach, M.J., Braudy, N., Briggs, R.W., Cormier, M.-H., Davis, M.B., Diebold, J.B., Dieudonne, N., Douilly, R., Frohlich, C., Gulick, S.P.S., Johnson III, H.E., Mann, P., McHugh, C., Ryan-Mishkin, K., Prentice, C.S., Seeber, L., Sorlien, C.C., Steckler, M.S., Symithe, S.J., Taylor, F.W., Templeton, J. High tsunami frequency as a result of combined strike-slip faulting and coastal landslides (2010) Nature Geoscience, 3 (11), pp. 783-788.  DOI: 10.1038/ngeo975

Meltzner, A.J., Sieh, K., Chiang, H.-W., Shen, C.-C., Suwargadi, B.W., Natawidjaja, D.H., Philibosian, B.E., Briggs, R.W., Galetzka, J. Coral evidence for earthquake recurrence and an A.D. 1390-1455 cluster at the south end of the 2004 Aceh-Andaman rupture (2010) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 115 (10), art. no. B10402.   DOI: 10.1029/2010JB007499

Briggs, R., Hammond, W. Integrating geodetic and geologic data in maps of seismic hazard (2009) Eos, 90 (38), p. 334. 

Briggs, R.W., Sieh, K., Amindon, W.H., Galetzka, J., Prayudi, D., Suprihanto, I., Sastra, N., Suwargadi, B., Natawidjaj, D., Farr, T.G. Persistent elastic behavior above a megathrust rupture patch: Nias island, West Sumatra (2008) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 113 (12), art. no. B12406.   DOI: 10.1029/2008JB005684

Adams, K.D., Goebel, T., Graf, K., Smith, G.M., Camp, A.J., Briggs, R.W., Rhode, D. Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene lake-level fluctuations in the Lahontan Basin, Nevada: Implications for the distribution of archaeological sites (2008) Geoarchaeology, 23 (5), pp. 608-643.   DOI: 10.1002/gea.20237

Turner, R., Koehler, R.D., Briggs, R.W., Wesnousky, S.G. Paleoseismic and slip-rate observations along the Honey Lake fault zone, northeastern California, USA (2008) Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 98 (4), pp. 1730-1736.  DOI: 10.1785/0120070090

Taylor, F.W., Briggs, R.W., Frohlich, C., Brown, A., Hornbach, M., Papabatu, A.K., Meltzner, A.J., Billy, D. Rupture across arc segment and plate boundaries in the 1 April 2007 Solomons earthquake (2008) Nature Geoscience, 1 (4), pp. 253-257. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo159

Konca, A.O., Hjorleifsdottir, V., Song, T.-R.A., Avouac, J.-P., Helmberger, D.V., Ji, C., Sieh, K., Briggs, R., Meltzner, A. Rupture kinematics of the 2005 Mw 8.6 m Nias-Simeulue earthquake from the joint inversion of seismic and geodetic data (2007) Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 97 (1 A SUPPL.), pp. S307-S322.  DOI: 10.1785/0120050632

Briggs, R.W., Sieh, K., Meltzner, A.J., Natawidjaja, D., Galetzka, J., Suwargadi, B., Hsu, Y.-J., Simons, M., Hananto, N., Suprihanto, I., Prayudi, D., Avouac, J.-P., Prawirodirdjo, L., Bock, Y. Deformation and slip along the Sunda megathrust in the great 2005 Nias-Simeulue earthquake (2006) Science, 311 (5769), pp. 1897-1901.  DOI: 10.1126/science.1122602

Kumar, S., Wesnousky, S.G., Rockwell, T.K., Briggs, R.W., Thakur, V.C., Jayangondaperumal, R. Paleoseismic evidence of great surface rupture earthquakes along the Indian Himalaya (2006) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 111 (3), art. no. B03304, .  DOI: 10.1029/2004JB003309

Briggs, R.W., Wesnousky, S.G., Adams, K.D. Late Pleistocene and late Holocene lake highstands in the Pyramid Lake subbasin of Lake Lahontan, Nevada, USA (2005) Quaternary Research, 64 (2), pp. 257-263. DOI: 10.1016/j.yqres.2005.02.011

Briggs, R.W., Wesnousky, S.G. Late Pleistocene and Holocene paleoearthquake activity of the Olinghouse fault zone, Nevada (2005) Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 95 (4), pp. 1301-1313.  DOI: 10.1785/0120040129

Wesnousky, S.G., Barron, A.D., Briggs, R.W., Caskey, S.J., Kumar, S., Owen, L. Paleoseismic transect across the northern Great Basin (2005) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 110 (5), art. no. B05408, pp. 1-25. DOI: 10.1029/2004JB003283

Briggs, R.W., Wesnousky, S.G. Late Pleistocene fault slip rate, earthquake recurrence, and recency of slip along the Pyramid Lake fault zone, northern Walker Lane, United States (2004) Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 109 (8), pp. B08402 1-16.  DOI: 10.1029/2003JB002717

Wesnousky, S.G., Seeber, L., Rockwell, T.K., Thakur, V., Briggs, R., Kumar, S., Ragona, D. Eight days in Bhuj: Field report bearing on surface rupture and genesis of the 26 January 2001 earthquake in India (2001) Seismological Research Letters, 72 (5), pp. 514-524.