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Ross Stein

Research Geophysicist

Contact Info

Short Biography

Ross Stein studies how earthquakes interact by the transfer of stress. He is a Consulting Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University, a Scientist Emeritus at the USGS, and President-elect of the Tectonophysics section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). He is the 2012 Gilbert F. White Natural Hazards Distinguished Lecture Award recipient of the AGU, and will be one of eight speakers in the 2015-2016 MPSF Speaker Series, the largest community lecture program in America; Stein will address 8,800 audience members in three San Francisco Bay area venues (1)He has delivered AGU’s Francis Birch Lecture and its Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture, gave a 2012 TEDx talk, ‘Defeating Earthquakes,’ and was keynote speaker for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and is Winter 2014 Stanford School of Earth Sciences Distinguished Lecturer. He received an Sc.B. from Brown University magna cum laude and with honors, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is a Fellow of the AGU and the Geological Society of America, was Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research, and later chaired AGU’s Board of Journal Editors. In 2003, the Science Citation Index reported that Stein was the second most-cited author in earthquake science during the preceding decade (2); he was the tenth most cited during 1900-2010 (3). Stein received the Eugene M. Shoemaker Distinguished Achievement Award of the USGS, the Excellence in Outreach Award of the Southern California Earthquake Center, and the Outstanding Contributions and Cooperation in Geoscience Award from NOAA. In 2009 he cofounded the Global Earthquake Model Foundation, a public-private partnership building a seismic risk model for the world, and chaired GEM’s Science Board until 2014. Ross has appeared in many documentary films, including the Emmy-nominated documentary, ‘Killer Quake’ (NOVA, 1995), the four-part ‘Great Quakes’ series (Discovery, 1997-2001), and the multiple award-winning 2004 National Geographic IMAX movie ‘Forces of Nature,’ which he helped to write and animate.


(1  (2)  (3) Liu et al, A bibliometric study of earthquake research: 1900-2010, Scientometrics (2012), doi:10.1007/s11192-011-0599-z



A selection of Sten's recent teaching tools, talks, and interviews can be seen here:


Read Full Professional Summary

Toda, S, Stein, R.S., Kirby, S. H., and Bozkurt, S. B.
A slab fragment wedged under Tokyo and its tectonic and seismic implications, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo318, November 2008
[Online Article, Animation, and Summaries in English and Japanese]
Stein, R.S.
Earthquake Rate Model 2.2 of the 2007 Working Group for California Earthquake Probabilities, Appendix D: Magnitude-Area relationship, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007-1162, 2007.
[Online summary and article]
Bozkurt, S.B., Stein, R.S., Toda, S.
Forecasting probabilistic seismic shaking for greater Tokyo from 400 years of intensity observations,
Earthquake Spectra, Volume 23, No. 3, pages 525-546, Doi: 10.1193/1.2753504, 2007.
(1) U.S. Geological Survey 345 Middlefield Rd., MS 977 Menlo Park, CA 94025 U.S.A. 
(2) Now at Geomatrix Consultants, Inc, 2101 Webster Street, CA 94612-3066
(3) Active Fault Research Center, AIST, Tsukuba, Japan
[Japanese Summary] [English Summary] [Printable article (2.8 Mb)] [Supplementary data (3.0 Mb)]
Nishimura, T., Sagiya, T., and Stein, R.S.
Crustal block kinematics and seismic potential of the northernmost Philippine Sea plate and Izu microplate, central Japan, Inferred from GPS and Leveling data, J. Geophys. Res. , 112, doi:10.1029/2005JB004102, 2007
(1) Geographical Survey Institute Geography and Crustal Dynamics Research Center Tsukuba, Japan 
(2) Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
(3) U.S. Geological Survey 345 Middlefield Rd., MS 977 Menlo Park, CA 94025 U.S.A.
[Japanese summary] [English Summary][Printable article (4.8 Mb)]
Grunewald, D.E. and Stein, R.S.
A new 1649–1884 catalog of destructive earthquakes near Tokyo and implications for the long-term seismic process , J. Geophys. Res., 111, doi:10.1029/2005JB004059., 2006
(1) U.S. Geological Survey 345 Middlefield Rd., MS 977 Menlo Park, CA 94025 U.S.A.
[Japanese summary] [English Summary][Printable article (2.8 Mb)]
Stein, R.S., Toda, S. , Parsons, T., and Grunewald, D.E.
A new probabilistic seismic hazard assessment for greater Tokyo, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, v. 364, pp. 1965-1988, doi:10.1098/rsta.2006.1808, 2006.
(1) U.S. Geological Survey 345 Middlefield Rd., MS 977 Menlo Park, CA 94025 U.S.A. 
(2) Active Fault Research Center, AIST, Tsukuba, Japan
(3) Department of Geophysics, Stanford University, USA
[Online article] [English Summary] [Japanese summary] [Printable article (5.1 Mb)]


My USGS Science Strategy Areas

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Earthquake deformation, interaction, and stress triggering

My research focuses on how earthquakes interact through the transfer of stress. Examples include aftershocks, the progression of mainshocks along a fault, earthquake clustering, and seismic quiescence. My collaborators and I are interested in how one earthquake promotes shocks at some sites and inhibits them in others. This work is driven by an attempt to understand the physics of earthquakes, and to develop better ways to make seismic hazard assessments and forecasts. 



New Talks, Results, Software, Teaching tools, Short Courses


Stanford School of Earth Sciences Winter 2014 Distinguished Lecture, "From Fishnet Stockings to Falling Apples" Earthquake Interaction on the Scale of a Fault to the Planet."



TEDx talk, 'Defeating Earthquakes' (20 min)

Recent articles about Stein's work in Nature Science

Recent static and dynamic earthquake triggering papers and animations

2011 M=9.0 Tohoku stress transfer Paper 1  Paper 2  Paper 3  News article in Science

QuakeCaster demo device video  SRL paper  Build and Teach Guide

Model Quake Towers videos and build instructions

Coulomb 3.3 software

Tokyo's seismic hazard

Earthquake animations

School teaching tools

University teaching tools

Latest USGS Quake Info

Earthquake Hazards Team Directory


Contact Information

Ross Stein
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-329-5163 - Fax
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