Stanford Earth’s Tianze Liu receives AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award

Stanford Earth graduate student TIANZE LIU has received an Outstanding Student Paper Award (OSPA) from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Tianze Liu
Tianze Liu. (Courtesy of the American Geophysical Union)

The award is given to promote, recognize and reward undergraduate, master’s and PhD students for quality research in the geophysical sciences. Typically, only the top 3 to 5 percent of student participants who present their research at the annual AGU fall meeting are awarded an OSPA.

Liu presented his research to develop an improved methodology for mapping crustal structures that affect seismicity at a recent AGU meeting.

Liu’s research at Stanford began as an attempt to understand a natural laboratory – the Ordos Plateau of northern China. The area is the source of recent interest about the evolution of the oldest continental nuclei, or cratons: large areas of basement rock from which scientists speculate continents have grown. In 2014 at his first-ever AGU talk, Liu won an OPSA award for early analysis of the crustal structure of this area. This is his second OPSA.

“Cratons, in general, have very low seismicity. However, today’s north China is very seismically active, as evidenced by the 1976 magnitude 7.6 Tangshan Earthquake, the deadliest event in the 20th century with a death toll amounting to about 250,000,” Liu said. “One key question we want to understand is how north China evolved from a stable craton into a seismically active region.”

Liu showed that previous claims about crustal structure suffered from methodological errors and proceeded to improve the Virtual Deep Seismic Sounding (VDSS) methodology to overcome problems that had misled earlier researchers. His technique extracts previously unavailable information about crustal structure and paves the way for the wider application of VDSS to Earth imaging using dense seismic arrays, or a system of seismometers deployed with dense spacing, according to SIMON KLEMPERER, a professor of geophysics and Liu’s doctoral research adviser.

Read the full article and more on the Stanford Earth website.