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Bedrock and Geology: Building Better by Knowing Geology Beneath

Oct 30, 2015 04:26 PM EDT
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When laying out buildings and neighborhoods, it's helpful to know about the bedrock that lies underneath, right? New research from UCLA will likely provide keener information about potential landslides and earthquakes in any area.

The study was led by Seulgi Moon, now an assistant professor of geology at UCLA but then a postdoctoral scholar at MIT, along with other researchers from MIT and University of Wyoming. Their findings were recently published in the journal Science.

In order to get a better idea of bedrock, the ground that lies beneath soil, roots and the Earth's surface, the researchers worked out a mathematical system to estimate the bedrock's stress from rock layers above and tectonic plates below. This way, they can figure out where breaks may occur, according to a release.

Fractures, or weathering, of bedrock can shape Earth's landscapes over time. They also take in carbon dioxide, noted the release.

Moon and Taylor Perron at MIT noted that we can tell by looking at topography how some fractured zones in the bedrock look-if the bedrock is receiving only minimal compression from tectonic plates. But if there's a good bit of crushing from tectonic plates, fractured zones will have bottom layers that are the inverse of what we see in the surface topography, the release confirmed.

With University of Wyoming researchers, the team performed an analysis of existing seismic surveys of varying areas of compression from tectonic plates in three states: Maryland, South Carolina and Colorado. In all three sites, their hypothesis matched the actual results, confirmed a release.

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