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Justin Rubinstein

Res. Geophysicist

Contact Info

Short Biography

Stanford University, Ph.D. in Geophysics, March 2006
Stanford University, M.S. in Geophysics, December 2002
UCLA, B.S. (cum laude) in Applied Geophysics, June 2000

Focus Areas:

  • Induced Earthquakes
  • Tectonic Tremor
  • Earthquake Recurrence and Prediction
  • Repeating Earthquakes
  • Time Dependent Earth Properties 
  • Earthquake Location Methods
  • Nonlinear Site Response


My current work is examining earthquakes that are potentially related to human activities. I am mostly focused on earthquakes and their relationship to wastewater disposal activities associated with oil/gas and CO2 sequestration. I am presently investigating the seismicity in the Raton Basin (CO and NM). I am also involved in a larger effort to help integrate induced earthquakes and potentially induced earthquakes into the upcoming version of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Map.

I have recently tested the time- and slip-predictable models for earthquake recurrence using the most regular earthquake sources I can find:  repeating earthquakes and laboratory earthquakes.  I find that  these models are demonstrably worse at predicting the time/slip of the following earthquake than simpler characteristic earthquake models. As part of this work, I have developed a new method for determining the relative sizes of repeating earthquakes using the Singular Value Decomposition (SVD).

Recently, I have also examined non-volcanic tremor and its response to outside sources of stressing.  In this work I have shown that non-volcanic tremor is strongly modulated by the earth and ocean tides.  The small stresses from teleseismic earthquakes also were shown to trigger tremor in Cascadia, only occurring when subduction slip is encouraged by passing teleseismic waves.

The other main thrust of my recent research is examining nonlinear strong ground motion.  Recently I have shown that even the shaking in medium magnitude earthquakes (M4-5) can be nonlinear.  I have also used the high similarity of repeating earthquakes to identify small velocity changes that are one of the hallmarks of nonlinear strong ground motion.

Download CV

Rubinstein, J.L. and W.L. Ellsworth, Variable Loading Rates and Fault Strengths Make Some Repeating Earthquakes Obey the Slip-Predictable Model, manuscript in preparation for GRL.

Chen, K.H. T. Furumura, J.L. Rubinstein , and R-J Rau, Modeling the Healing of Subsurface Damage After the 1999 Chi-Chi Earthquake, manuscript in preparation for GRL.

Pollitz, F.F., W.L. Ellsworth, and J. L. Rubinstein, Interpretation of S waves generated by near-surface chemical explosions at SAFOD, manuscript in preparation for BSSA.

Lay, T., Y. Fujii, E. Geis, K. Koketsu, J. Rubinstein, T. Sagiya, and M. Simons (2013), Introduction to the Special Issue on the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and TsunamiBulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 103, pp. 1165-1170, doi: 10.1785/0120130001

Pollitz, F.F., J.L. Rubinstein, and W.L. Ellsworth (2012), Source Characterization of Near-Surface Chemical ExplosionsBSSA, v. 102, pp. 1348-1360, doi:10.1785/012011201.   

Rubinstein, J.L., W.L. Ellsworth, K.H. Chen, and N. Uchida (2012), The Time and Slip-Predictable Models Cannot be Dependably Used to Predict Earthquake Behavior 1: Repeating EarthquakesJGR, v. 117, B02306, doi:10.1029/2011JB008724.

Rubinstein, J.L., W.L. Ellsworth, N. Beeler, B.D. Kilgore, D. Lockner, and H. Savage (2012), The Time- and Slip-Predictable Models Cannot be Dependably Used to Predict Earthquake Behavior 2: Laboratory EarthquakesJGR , v. 117, B02307, doi:10.1029/2011JB008723.  

Chen, K.H., T. Furumura, J.L. Rubinstein, and R-J Rau (2011), Observations of Changes in Waveform Character Induced by the 1999 Mw 7.6 Chi-Chi Earthquake GRL v. 38, L23302, doi:10.1029/2011GL049841.  

Rubinstein, J.L. (2011), Nonlinear Site Response in Medium Magnitude Earthquakes Near Parkfield, CABSSA, vol 101, pp. 275 - 286, doi: 10.1785/0120090396.

Rubinstein, J.L. and W.L. Ellsworth (2010), Precise Estimation of Repeating Earthquake Moment: Example from Parkfield CaliforniaBSSA, vol. 100, pp. 1952-1961, doi: 10.1785/0120100007.

Gomberg, J. and the Cascadia 2007 and Beyond Working Group (2010), Slow-slip phenomena in Cascadia from 2007 and beyond: A reviewGSA Bulletin, v. 122, 963-978, doi: 10.1130/B30287

Rubinstein, J.L., D.R. Shelly, and W.L. Ellsworth (2010), Non-Volcanic Tremor: A Window into the Roots of Fault Zone, in New Frontiers in Integrated Solid Earth Sciences, edited by S. Cloetingh and J. Negendank, pp. 287-314, Springer Netherlands.

Rubinstein, J.L., J. Gomberg, J.E. Vidale, A.G. Wech, H. Kao, K.C. Creager, G. Rogers (2009), Seismic Wave Triggering of Non-Volcanic Tremor, ETS, and Earthquakes on Vancouver Island, JGR, vol. 114, B00A01, doi:10.1029/2008JB005875.

Peng, Z., J.E. Vidale., K.C. Creager, J.L. Rubinstein , J. Gomberg, and P.Bodin (2008), Strong tremor near Parkfield, CA excited by the 2002 Denali earthqauke GRL , vol. 35, L23305, doi:10.1029/2008GL036080.

Rubinstein, J.L. , M. La Rocca, J.E. Vidale, K.C. Creager, A.G. Wech (2008), Tidal Modulation of Non-Volcanic TremorScience, v319, pp. 186-189.

J. Gomberg, J.L. Rubinstein, Z. Peng, K.C. Creager, J.E. Vidale (2008), Widespread Triggering of Non-Volcanic Tremor in California, Science, v. 319, pp. 173.

Rubinstein, J.L., J.E. Vidale, J. Gomberg, P. Bodin, K.C. Creager, S. Malone (2007), Non-Volcanic Tremor Driven by Large Transient Shear StressesNature , vol 448, pp 579-582.

Rubinstein, J.L., N. Uchida, and G.C. Beroza (2007), Seismic Velocity Reductions Caused by the 2003 Tokachi-Oki Earthquake,JGR, vol 112, B05315, doi:10.1029/2006JB004440.

Rubinstein, J.L. and G.C. Beroza (2007), Full Waveform Earthquake Location: Application to Seismic Streaks on the Calaveras Fault, California JGR, vol. 112, B05303, doi:10.1029/2006B004463.

Rubinstein, J. L. and G. C. Beroza (2005), Depth Constraints on Nonlinear Strong Ground Motion from the 2004 Parkfield EarthquakeGRL, vol. 32, L14313, doi: 10.1029/2005GL023189..

Rubinstein, J. L. and G. C. Beroza (2004), Nonlinear Strong Ground Motion in the Ml5.4 Chittenden Earthquake: Evidence that Preexisting Damage Increases Susceptibility to Further DamageGRL, v. 31, L23614, doi: 10.1029/2004GL021357.

Rubinstein, J. L. and G. C. Beroza (2004), Evidence for Widespread Nonlinear Strong Ground Motion in the Mw6.9 Loma Prieta Earthquake , BSSA, Vol. 94, No. 5, pp. 1595–1608.

Hooper, A., P. Segall, K. Johnson, and J. L. Rubinstein (2002).  Reconciling Seismic and Geodetic Models of the 1989 Kilauea South Flank EarthquakeGRL, v. 29, no. 22, doi: 10.1029/2002GL016156.

Baher, S., P. Davis, G. Fuis, J. L. Rubinstein, M. Kohler, S. Persh, and A. Provost (2002).  Earthquake Data Report for LARSE II:  High Resolution Survey, Santa Monica, California, U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report.

Davis, P., J. L. Rubinstein, K. Liu, S. Gao, and L. Knopoff (2000).  Northridge Earthquake Damage Caused by Geologic Focusing of Seismic WavesScience, v 289. no. 5485, pp. 1746-1750.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Natural Hazardsearthquake occurrences
Natural Hazardsearthquake probabilities
Natural Hazardsearthquakes

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Additional Information

My webpage

Contact Information

Justin Rubinstein
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-329-5163 - Fax
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