Southern California Earthquake Center

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Southern California
Earthquake Center
SCEC Traditional Logo Red.png
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California
18 Core Institutions and 75 Participating Institutions
Director and Board Chair
John Vidale
Gregory C. Beroza

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) is a consortium of fifteen research institutions with a mission to gather new information about earthquakes in Southern California, integrate such information into a comprehensive and predictive understanding of earthquake phenomena, and communicate this understanding to end-users in the earthquake engineering profession and the general public in order to increase earthquake awareness, reduce economic losses, and save lives. Its headquarters are at the University of Southern California.

A community of over 600 scientists from 16 Core Institutions, 47 Participating Institutions, and elsewhere participate in SCEC. SCEC also partners with a large number of other research and education/outreach organizations in many disciplines. Funding for SCEC activities is provided by the National Science Foundation and the United States Geological Survey. The current director of SCEC is John Vidale.

To support this community, SCEC engages in information technology research that will revolutionize our methods of doing collaborative research and distributing research products on-line. In addition, the SCEC Communication, Education, and Outreach Program coordinates Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills[1] and offers student research experiences, web-based education tools, classroom curricula, museum displays, public information brochures, online newsletters, and technical workshops and publications.

Education and Outreach programs[edit]

Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills[edit]

Since 2008, SCEC has coordinated Great ShakeOut Earthquake ShakeOut Drills, a worldwide earthquake safety movement.[2]

Internships: UseIT and SURE[edit]

SCEC currently operates two different internship programs funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Defense as well as several other institutions including the University of Southern California and the United States Geological Survey. These two programs are the UseIT program which is directed towards developing software for understanding earthquakes worldwide and the SURE program which is aimed at more focused topics of research in the Earth Sciences. The director of these two programs is Dr. Gabriela Noriega.[3]

The SCEC UseIT (Undergraduate Studies in Earthquake Information Technology) program, unites undergraduates who are sophomores, juniors, or seniors in the coming fall, taking potentially any major, and coming from colleges and universities across the continent to participate in a leading-edge program at SCEC headquarters.

SCEC/UseIT interns work on multi-disciplinary, collaborative teams to tackle a scientific "Grand Challenge" posed by 2002–2017 SCEC director Dr. Thomas H. Jordan. The Grand Challenge varies each year but always entails performing computer science research that is needed by earthquake scientists or outreach professionals.[4]

The SCEC SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) program pairs a student, one-on-one, to conduct research with a pre-eminent earthquake scientist or specialist. Many SURE interns also have the opportunity to work alongside graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, and thus gain the special perspective of these early career professionals.

Started in 1994, SCEC/SURE has supported students to work in a very wide variety of fields related to earthquake science, including paleoseismic field investigations, remote sensing, risk mitigation, seismic velocity modeling, effects of earthquakes on natural resources such as groundwater, science education, information technology, and earthquake engineering.[5]


SCEC is one of three institutions (the other being the California Geological Survey and USGS) that form the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP), responsible for creating the California earthquake "forecast," UCERF. The current version, with the latest forecast results, is known as UCERF3.[6]


SCEC Headquarters are located at the University of Southern California's Park campus just south of Downtown Los Angeles. Administrative offices for SCEC are located on the first floor of the Zumberge Hall of Science (ZHS) on Trousdale Parkway. Other facilities in Zumberge Hall include an educational development office, software development lab, undergraduate computer lab and the office of director Thomas H. Jordan as well as several media rooms for presentations and public outreach.

Core institutions[edit]

SCEC Headquarters in Zumberge Hall

SCEC is a consortium of fifteen core institutions:

See also[edit]



  • Aki, K. (2002), "Synthesis of Earthquake Science Information and Its Public Transfer: A History of the Southern California Earthquake Center", International Handbook of Earthquake & Engineering Seismology (PDF), Part A, Volume 81A (First ed.), Academic Press, pp. 39–49, ISBN 978-0124406520, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°1′13″N 118°17′8″W / 34.02028°N 118.28556°W / 34.02028; -118.28556