James Biemiller '15 Research Geophysicist

What do you hope to do with your geosceince education?

As a research geophysicist, I study the physical and geological conditions that lead to different types of earthquakes on active faults. I hope my research will allow us to better understand the potential for large devastating earthquakes in densely populated regions like the Pacific Northwest in order to better plan and prepare for impending earthquakes.

What did you research in graduate school?

My grad school geophysics research used campaign GPS measurements to track multi-year movement of the Earth's surface above a major fault in Papua New Guinea to better understand how and where energy is being stored along the fault for future earthquakes. I also surveyed and dated uplifted coral terraces above the fault to reconstruct its recent (~5,000 year) earthquake slip history, which helps us understand how often the fault slips in destructive earthquakes. In my upcoming research, I'll be constructing physics-based dynamic rupture models to simulate earthquakes on this fault system as well as the Cascadia subduction megathrust beneath Oregon and Washington.

What do you like to do in your free time? What's your favorite hike in Rockbridge?

I love running, hiking, traveling, and exploring the outdoors in my free time. The fieldwork component of geophysics research lets me hike around some incredible landscapes for work. I'm particularly fond of the hike up and around Devil's Marbleyard- looking out to the horizon from amidst a vast boulder field is an amazing feeling.