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Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris is a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Science Center. She received her S.B. from MIT, her M.S. from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara.  Her research focuses on understanding large earthquakes, what causes them to start, stop, and trigger other earthquakes, and determining how they generate strong ground shaking.

Her approach involves computer simulations of earthquake rupture dynamics, and investigations of geophysical and geological field and laboratory observations.  She has had a long-time interest in creeping faults, starting from the beginning of her earthquake career working on the Parkfield region of the San Andreas fault, and continuing to more recent time with her 2017 review article on creeping faults, and her 2021 paper simulating scenario earthquakes on the San Francisco Bay Area’s Rodgers Creek, Hayward, and Calaveras faults. 

Ruth leads a 30-scientists USGS project which investigates earthquake mechanics from a range of perspectives including field observations and rock mechanics lab experiments, produces the USGS’s aftershock probabilities, and studies subduction zones along with their tsunamigenesis. 

She has served on the Board of Directors of the Seismological Society of America (SSA) for 13 years, including as President from 2015 to 2016, and from 2023 to 2024. She is a three-decades member of the Southern California Earthquake Center, served as a SCEC science planning committee member for more than 10 years, and is a USGS liaison to the SCEC Board of Directors.

Ruth served as an Associate Editor for the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Journal of Geophysical Research from 1997-2001, as an Editor for AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters from 2009-2012, and she is currently an Editor for AGU’s journal Reviews of Geophysics.  She is also an Associate Editor for SSA’s open-access journal, The Seismic Record.  For her work on earthquake science, she received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Award in 2011, the UCSB Department of Earth Science’s Distinguished Alumna Award in 2016, and was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2019.  She received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Distinguished Service Award in 2023, and is the AGU College of Fellows’ Seismology Distinguished Lecturer from 2023-2024.


Ruth's science accomplishments include:

*Leadership of the long-running international SCEC-USGS dynamic rupture group

*Development of the stress shadow hypothesis and coining of the "stress shadow" term, with R. Simpson

*The first simulations of dynamic multi-fault earthquake rupture, with S. Day and R. Archuleta

*The first simulations of dynamic earthquake rupture for damage zones and for bimaterials, assuming a drop in friction, with results producing occasional supershear rupture speeds, and producing evidence that material contrast alone does not predict earthquake rupture propagation direction, with S. Day and D.J. Andrews

*The first imaging of the Juan de Fuca plate subducted at depth beneath southern Oregon, with H.M. Iyer and P. Dawson

*The first detailed inversions of geodetic data for 2D slip on a fault, with P. Segall


Links to many of Ruth’s publications can be found in Google Scholar and ORCID.

If you do not have access to her publications, please email her.