issues and experts

Earthquake monitoring aims to shake up awareness: SFU experts available

October 20, 2021

October 21 is International ShakeOut Day and Simon Fraser University experts are available to discuss earthquake preparedness and research. 

SFU Earth Sciences professor Glyn Williams-Jones is using small sensors called Raspberry Shakes to better understand geological activity in regions around Squamish—and hopes to expand those efforts to better monitor the potential for earthquakes in locations around the province.

The sensors can detect and measure the strength of ground vibrations caused by large events —avalanches, landslides, and earthquakes—and even the subtle footsteps of people walking or jumping nearby. Sensors planted around B.C.—in cooperation with community partners, who would benefit from accessing the data about their regions— would feed information into a new data portal he plans to establish at SFU. 

Williams-Jones uses Raspberry Shakes to monitor debris flows at high-risk areas on Mount Cayley near Squamish. He also plans to install sensors at the base of the Stawamus Chief—the site of recent rockslide activity— where researchers are integrating geotechnical and geophysical approaches to identify areas most at risk of failure.

On Oct. 21, during the annual ShakeOutBC event, SFU staff and faculty can test out a version of the Raspberry Shake that Williams-Jones has installed outside the Department of Earth Sciences main office on the Burnaby campus (TASC 1 building, 7000 level). “This is a low-cost device with multiple benefits—engaging the public in citizen science research, raising awareness and encouraging everyone to learn how to be prepared in the event of a major earthquake,” he says.

Williams-Jones is among SFU experts who can comment on earthquake preparedness. 


GLYN WILLIAMS-JONES, professor & chair, Earth Sciences, co-director, Centre for Natural Hazards Research 

- ‘Raspberry Shake’ earthquake monitors, creating a citizen science network for earthquake monitoring
- Natural hazards research in B.C. including landslides, volcanoes and earthquakes
- Earthquake preparedness

SERGIO SEPULVEDA, FRBC (Forest Renewal BC) Chair in Resource Geoscience & Geotechnics, associate professor, Earth Sciences

- The effects of earthquakes in the ground including landslides & soil liquefaction
- What it’s like to experience a devastating earthquake, first-hand in Chile
- The importance of public awareness & earthquake resistant building practices to reduce casualties & property damage

JESSICA PILARCYZK, assistant professor, Earth Sciences, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Natural Hazards

- Subduction zone earthquakes (i.e., large earthquakes from offshore subduction zones such as the Cascadia Subduction Zone) and tsunamis 
- Tropical cyclones (hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones)
- Sea level change

JOHN CLAGUE, professor emeritus, Earth Sciences, CRC Chair in Natural Hazard Science

- Natural hazards and risks related to climate and environmental change
- Earthquake hazards and preparedness

BRENT WARD, professor, Earth Sciences, co-director, Centre for Natural Hazards Research

- Frequency of subduction zone and crustal earthquakes
- Response of different parts of the Lower Mainland to earthquakes
- Recent work on active faults in B.C.


MELISSA SHAW, SFU  Communications & Marketing 
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