AEG Monthly Meeting—Thursday, March 12 Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists


Speaker: Stephen Dickenson, Adjunct Research Faculty, Nevada Seismological Laboratory, UNR

Topic: Post-Earthquake Forensic Investigations of Soil-Structure Interaction:  A Sleuth’s Guide to Seismological, Geological, and Geotechnical Clues 

Abstract: This presentation will focus on lessons learned from field observations and forensic evaluations of building foundations made by Dr. Dickenson and his colleagues at sites in Wellington, New Zealand following the 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake. An overview will be provided that addresses seismological aspects of the strong ground motions recorded at the project sites and the significant impact of local geology on the strength of the ground shaking. This overview will lead into the case study of seismic performance of a five-story, pile-supported building, which was built in 2009, well instrumented with accelerometers, and had been subjected to two prior Mw 6.5 earthquakes. The project team was charged with evaluating the likelihood of significant damage to the pile foundations; a forensic investigation that required thorough seismological, geological, and geotechnical evaluation.

Biography: Stephen Dickenson is the President of New Albion Geotechnical, Inc., a consultancy specializing in geotechnical earthquake engineering applications for major civil works. Dr. Dickenson’s consulting, research, and post-earthquake reconnaissance efforts have primarily focused on dynamic soil-structure-interaction and the seismic performance of slopes and earth structures, earth retention systems, bridges, port and coastal facilities, and buildings. He has led, and supported, numerous investigations of the seismic performance of civil infrastructure involving development on weak soils, deep foundations and buried utilities subjected to ground failure, and the effectiveness of ground treatment for mitigating hazards.

Dr. Dickenson earned his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of California, Berkeley, his Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech, and his Doctorate in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a licensed Civil Engineer (CA, NV, OR, WA) and board-certified Diplomate in Port Engineering (ACOPNE D. PE) with over 30 years of experience in consulting practice, academia, applied research, and development of continuing education for geo-professionals. He has resided in numerous places along a circuitous path from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest, and now makes his home in Reno where he enjoys all of the outdoor time he can get.



This month we will be serving corned beef, salad, and key lime pie. On the RSVP, please indicate if you have a dietary restriction such as vegan, vegetarian or gluten free options.

Media Coverage of the Earthquake Forum

Earthquake report spurs retrofitting of old buildings in Nevada
Story from Reno Gazette Journal, April 25, 2016
By Scott Sonner, Associated Press

“A new report raising the likelihood of a destructive earthquake striking Salt Lake City in the next half-century has underscored the urgency to retrofit more than 30,000 older brick homes and other unreinforced buildings at high risk of collapsing.

It’s also getting attention in neighboring Nevada, where a significant quake is overdue along the Sierra. Nevada officials are anxious to see if Utah succeeds in a first-in-the-nation attempt to secure federal disaster funds for private homeowners to aid in such efforts.”…

“He [Craig dePolo] estimates there are 1,400 unreinforced buildings in Reno, Sparks and Carson City above a series of Sierra-front faults where earthquakes of 6.5 hit on average every 30 years but haven’t struck in more than 60 years.
‘Thirty to 40 percent of those will partially or totally collapse during strong shaking,’ dePolo said.”
You can read the entire article with quotes from Craig dePolo (Research Geologist at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology) and Graham Kent (Director of the Nevada Seismology Laboratory) here.

Related publication: Preliminary assessment of potentially unreinforced masonry buildings in Nevada


Sierra overdue for earthquake
Nevada Appeal, April 19, 2016

“The Sierra’s eastern front is long overdue for a large earthquake along the California-Nevada line, where a magnitude-7 event expected on average every 30 years hasn’t occurred in six decades, scientists said Tuesday.

Nevada Seismological Laboratory Director Graham Kent said the region’s earthquake “drought” is likely one of the reasons the public has a misconception there’s a low risk a serious quake will strike.”…

“Rich Koehler, an assistant professor of geology at Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, said a magnitude-7 earthquake could potentially hit anytime, anywhere along the California-Nevada border.”

You can read the story here.


Global experts to inform region on economic recovery after devastating earthquakes: Earthquake Economic Resiliency Forum for public, economic leaders and disaster officials
Nevada Today, April 12, 2016, by Mike Wolterbeek

Nevada Seismological Lab lecture at UNR – February 4

The Nevada Seismological Laboratory will present this lecture: Speaker: Dr. Stephen D. Malone Title: The Winter, 2013 magnitude 6.5 earthquake in Puget Sound that no one will feel”: The story of episodic tremor and slip (ETS), what it is, how we c…

The Nevada Seismological Laboratory will present this lecture:
Speaker: Dr. Stephen D. Malone

Title: The Winter, 2013 magnitude 6.5 earthquake in Puget Sound that no one will feel”: The story of episodic tremor and slip (ETS), what it is, how we can measure it, some of its strange properties

Date: Monday Feb 4, 2013

Time: 4 pm

Where: Davidson Math and Science (DMS) Building, Room 103 at UNR

See this link for history of seminar series: