Stephen Hicks is from Somerset, UK, and is studying a PhD in earthquake seismology and geodynamics at the University’s School of Environmental Sciences. He graduated from the University at undergraduate level in Geology and Geophysics in 2011 and has now joined Professor Andreas Rietbrock and his research group to explore the causes behind the 2010 Chilean earthquake - the biggest earthquake in South America since the 1960s.
The magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile caused widespread damage to buildings, bridges and roads and was estimated to have killed more than 500 people and affected the lives of two million overall. Resulting in a Pacific-wide tsunami, it is the sixth largest earthquake ever to have been recorded.
Immediately following the earthquake a team of international scientists, including Professor Andreas Rietbrock at the University, deployed a network of seismometer and GPS instruments to analyse the aftershocks and ground deformation. To investigate why these large earthquakes occur, Stephen is studying the rupture zone of the quake using aftershock data recorded by the seismometers.
Stephen said: "I went to Chile earlier this year to download the data from the rupture zone and remove the instruments, so that we could begin the detailed analysis here in Liverpool. Working in the field can be stressful, but it is important to get a feel for the area you are studying and have a direct handle on the data. It was also a useful experience to meet the people directly affected the by earthquake, as it gives you a great sense of how significant research in this is and how it can make a difference to people’s lives."