Elizabeth Cochran

United States Geological Survey
Pasadena Field Office

Dr. Elizabeth Cochran is a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey in Pasadena, California. As an observational seismologist, her research ranges from studying the detailed behavior of fault slip to developing new techniques to densely observe earthquakes.


Dr. Cochran conducts detailed studies of aftershock behavior, fault zone properties, and deep seismic slip (tremor). After a large earthquake, large numbers of seismic stations are installed in near the mainshock to record the hundreds to thousands of aftershocks that will occur over the subsequent months. These data are then used to image fault structure and study the small-scale details of fault complexity and damage zones around faults. The work has shown that fault structures can exhibit highly complex slip behavior. And, faults tend to localize on zones that are 100m - 1 km wide and severely damaged compared to surrounding, intact rock


She is also currently investigating new techniques to densely monitor strong ground motions in urban areas. The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative research effort that uses low-cost MEMS sensors connected to personal computers or other devices in homes, offices, and schools. The data collected by these sensors may be used to augment the existing seismic networks to aid in the study of earthquake rupture processes, block-by-block variations in ground motion, and may even provide useful data for earthquake early warning systems currently being developed for California and the Pacific Northwest.


She has taught a number of undergraduate and graduate courses including: 'Earthquake Country' - a large introductory course for non-majors; 'Introduction to GIS' - a beginning lecture and lab course on Geographical Information Science for undergraduate and graduate students; 'Volcanology' - an introduction to volcanology for undergraduate and graduate students (co-taught); and 'Topics in Seismology' - a graduate seismology course.