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Katherine Scharer

Research Geologist

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Short Biography

Dr. Scharer holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington.  She was a professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, but most of her fieldwork has been on the geology of southern California.

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Rockwell, T., Scharer, K., Dawson, T., in press. Paleoseismology of the San Andreas Fault Zone, in Applied Geology of California, eds Anderson, R. and Ferriz, R., Association of Environmental and Engineering Geology Special Publication Number 26.

Scharer, K., Fumal, T., Weldon, R., Streig, A., 2015. Photomosaics and event evidence from the Frazier Mountain paleoseismic site, trench 1, cuts 5–24, San Andreas Fault Zone, southern California (2010–2012): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1147, 25 p., 3 sheets,

Brocher, T., Baltay, A., Hardebeck, J., Pollitz, F., Murray, J., Llenos, A., Schwartz, D., Blair, J., Ponti, D., Lienkaemper, J., Langenheim, V., Dawson, T., Hudnut, K., Shelly, D., Dreger, D., Boatwright, J., Aagaard, B., Wald, D., Allen, R., Barnhart, W., Knudsen, K., Brooks, B., Scharer, K., 2015. The Mw6.0 24 August 2014 South Napa Earthquake, Seismological Research Letters, 86, 344-354.

Salisbury, J. B., Haddad, D. E., Rockwell, T., Arrowsmith, J R., Madugo, C., Zielke, O., Scharer, K., 2015. Validation of meter-scale surface faulting offset measurements from high-resolution topographic data, Geosphere, 11, no. 6, p. 1–18, doi:10.1130/GES01197.1.

Scharer, K., Weldon, R., Streig, A., Fumal, T., 2014. Paleoearthquakes at Frazier Mountain, California delimit extent and frequency of past San Andreas Fault ruptures along 1857 trace, Geophysical Research Letters, 41, 4527-4534.

Scharer, K.M., Salisbury, J.B., Arrowsmith, J R., Rockwell, T.K., 2014. Southern San Andreas Fault Evaluation field activity: Approaches to measuring small geomorphic offsets – Challenges and recommendations for active fault studies, Seismological Research Letters, 85, 68-76.

Scharer, K.M., Fumal, T.E., Weldon, R.J., Streig, A.R., 2014. Photomosaics and event evidence from the Frazier Mountain paleoseismic site, Trench 1, Cuts 1–4, San Andreas Fault Zone, Southern California (2007-2009), U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1002, 4 sheets, various scales, pamphlet 23 p.,

Elliot, J.R., Copley, A.C., Holley, R., Scharer, K., Parsons, B., 2013. The 2011 Mw7.1 Van (Eastern Turkey) earthquake, Journal of Geophysical Research, 118, 1619-1637.

Hales, T.C., Scharer, K.M., Wooten, R.M., 2012. Southern Appalachian hillslope erosion rates measured by soil and detrital radiocarbon in hollows, Geomorphology, 138, 121-129.

Scharer, K.M., Biasi, G.P., Weldon, R.J., 2011. A reevaluation of the Pallett Creek earthquake chronology based on new AMS radiocarbon dates, San Andreas fault, California, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, B12111.

Biasi, G.P., Weldon, R.J., and Scharer, K.M., 2011. Rupture length and paleomagnitude estimates from point measurements of displacement – A model-based approach, in Geological Criteria for Evaluating Seismicity Revisited: Forty Years of Paleoseismic Investigations and the Natural Record of Past Earthquakes, GSA Special Publication 479, 195-204

Scharer, K.M., Biasi, G.P., Weldon, R.J., Fumal, T.E., 2010. Quasi-periodic recurrence of large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault, Geology, 38, 555-558.

Scharer, K.M., 2010. Changing views of the San Andreas fault, Science. 327, 1089.

Philibosian, B., Fumal, T. E., Weldon II, R. J., Kendrick, K. J., Scharer, K. M., Bemis, S. P., Burgette, R. J., and Wisely, B. A., 2009. Photomosaics and logs of trenches on the San Andreas Fault near Coachella, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1039, 2 sheets,

Scharer, K.M., Weldon, R. J. II, Fumal, T. E., Biasi, G. P., 2007. Paleoearthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault, Wrightwood, CA 3000 to 1500 B.C.: a new method for evaluating paleoseismic evidence and earthquake horizons, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 97, 1054-1093.

Chen, J., Heermance, R., Burbank, D., Scharer, K., Wang, C., 2007. Quantification of growth and lateral propagation of the Kashi anticline, southwest Chinese Tian Shan, Journal of Geophysical Research – Special Section on Fault-Related Folding, 112, B03S16.

Scharer, K. M., Burbank, D. W., Chen, J., Weldon, R. J., 2006.  Kinematic models of fluvial terraces over active detachment folds: Constraints on the growth mechanism of the Kashi-Atushi fold system, Chinese Tian Shan, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 118, 1006-1021.

Weldon, R. J, Fumal, T. E., Biasi, G. P., Scharer, K. M., 2005. Past and future earthquakes on the San Andreas fault, Science, 308, 966 – 967.

Scharer, K. M., Burbank, D. W., Chen, J., Weldon, R. J., Rubin, C., Zhao, R., Shen, J., 2004.  Detachment folding in the Southwestern Tian Shan - Tarim foreland, China; Shortening estimates and rates, Journal of Structural Geology, 26(11), 2119-2137.

Weldon, R. J, Scharer, K. M., Fumal, T. E., Biasi, G. P., 2004.  Wrightwood and the earthquake cycle: what a long recurrence record tells us about how faults work, GSA Today, 14(9), 4-10.

Weldon, R. J., Fletcher, D. K., Weldon, E. M., Scharer, K. M., McCrory, P. A., 2003. An update of Quaternary faults of central and eastern Oregon, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-301, 26 map sheets, scale 1:100,000, 1 CD-ROM.

Weldon, R. J. II, Fumal, T. E., Powers, T. J., Pezzopane, S. K., Scharer, K. M., Hamilton, J. C., 2002. Structure and earthquake offsets on the San Andreas fault at the Wrightwood, California paleoseismic site, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 92, 2704-2725.

Chen, J., Burbank, D. W., Scharer, K. M., Sobel, E., Jinhui, Y., Rubin, C., Ruibin, Z., 2002. Magnetochronology of the upper Cenozoic strata in the southwestern Chinese Tian Shan; rates of Pleistocene folding and thrusting, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 195(1-2), 113-130.

Jayko, A., Green, N., Scharer, K. M., 1996. Plio-Pleistocene strain rates associated with regional folding, Sonoma California, in Toward Assessing the Seismic Risk Associated with Blind Thrust Faults, San Francisco Bay Region, California, U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report # 096-0267.


Dr. Kate Scharer studies active tectonics, with a primary emphasis on the prehistoric occurrence and effects of large earthquakes.  Much of her work is on the San Andreas Fault system, where she has developed long series of paleoearthquake records in order to explore variations in the timing and size of these events.  As part of this research area, she studies tectonic geomorphology and works to improve our ability to radiocarbon date Holocene sediments. Dr. Scharer also researches tectonic processes at longer timescales, investigating the slip rates on active faults and the development and growth of folds and thrust belts.

Contact Information

Katherine Scharer
525 535 South Wilson Street
Pasadena, CA 91106
626-583-7827 - Fax
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