Numerical inversion methods to better understand friction between the tectonic plates in Alaska

  • BCAM researcher Julen Alvarez Aramberri is aboard the U.S. research vessel Sikuliaq doing field work in the North Pacific

A group of 15 researchers from 6 countries, including Julen Álvarez Aramberri from the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics - BCAM, is doing field work in the North Pacific aboard the U.S. research ship Sikuliaq. All of them participate in the EMAGE (Electromagnetic Alaskan Geoprism Experiment) project which aims to study the content and distribution of fluids (mainly water) in the crust and terrestrial mantle of Western Alaska to better understand the friction between tectonic plates in subduction zones, as well as the earthquakes associated with such friction.

Julen is a postdoctoral researcher in BCAM’s Simulation of Wave Propagation group and has a grant from the Basque Government to work at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University (USA). There, he collaborates with the EMLAB group, an expert in carrying out projects for taking passive and active electromagnetic measurements; marine and terrestrial. Since early June he has been part of the crew of the ship Sikuliaq, owned by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), responsible for the placement of 168 receivers that will perform electromagnetic measurements along the sea surface along the subduction zone of the Aleutian Islands, in Alaska. These measurements will allow the creation of a subsoil conductivity map using advanced numerical inversion methods, a task in which Julen will be able to contribute thanks to his experience in applied mathematics and computational geophysics.

There are two websites of the project (in English) where you can find out about the day-to-day running of the project and its scientific interest but, in addition, Julen has created the blog ciencilari in which he shares, in Spanish, the experience of this journey and what it means to him, both personally and scientifically: