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Instability in Lithosphere and in Society


Nonlinear Problems in Earth Sciences and Socio-Economic Studies

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • INF-COM/High Performance Computing and Networking/Information and Communications
  • OBS-NAT/Natural Resources and Earth Sciences/Other Basic Sciences

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
International Institute of Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical Geophysics, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Ural Branch of RAS / Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics, Russia, Sverdlovsk reg., Ekaterinburg


  • Universita' Degli Studi di Trieste / Dipartimento di Scienze Della Terra, Italy, Trieste\nInternational Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), Austria, Laxenburg\nUniversity of Virginia / Department of Mathematics, USA, VA, Charlottesville\nUniversity of California, USA, CA, Davis\nUniversity of Colorado at Boulder / Center for Imaging the Earth's Interior, USA, CO, Boulder\nUniversity of Tokyo / Earthquake Research Institute, Japan, Tokyo\nPurdue University / Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, USA, IN, West Lafayette\nInstitut de Physique du Globe, France, Paris\nKarlsruhe University / Geophysikalisches Institut, Germany, Karlsruhe\nUniversity of Cantabria, Spain, Santander\nPolitecnico di Torino, Italy, Torino\nCenter for Population, Poverty and Public Policy Studies, Luxembourg, Differdange\nUniversity of California, USA, CA, Los-Angeles

Project summary

OBJECTIVE: The principal goal of the Project is to develop sophisticated models of (1) dynamics of the lithosphere and mantle of the Earth as a fundamental basis for better understanding of the nonlinear geophysical processes (e.g., earthquakes flow, mantle convection) and (2) forecasting socio-economic crises and periods of stable development. The Project addresses the following problems: theoretical explanation of the processes in lithosphere dynamics, particularly, those causing earthquakes; interaction between mantle flow and lithosphere plate dynamics; computational solid and fluid geodynamics; direct and inverse problems of gravimetry, magnetometry, and thermal convection; stress and deformations in the lithosphere; pattern recognition analysis; and forecasting socio-economic crises versus stable development.

The studies proposed in the project will be an extension of the research on mathematical and computational geodynamics and seismicity started within the framework of the ISTC projects (#008-94 and #1293-99) and be made by a joint research group consisting of scientists of the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics (IMM), Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who were engaged earlier in the research on missile navigation, and scientists of the International Institute for Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical Geophysics (IIEPT), Russian Academy of Sciences, working in mathematical geophysics and pattern recognition problems. The research in the socio-economic area (forecast of crises and stable development) is a new direction of the joint efforts of the two teams of scientists.

The Project combines efforts of highly qualified experts in mathematics, geophysics, economics, and numerical modeling. The two teams consist of 3 academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), including the RAS President, 6 corresponding members of the RAS, 7 doctors of science, 17 PhDs, and 13 researchers (MSc) among them 10 are young researchers. The project collaborators are outstanding scientists, members of the national academies of USA and Italy and a foreign member of the RAS. The proposed research allows scientists engaged earlier in the weapon development to continue conversion into civil research.


1. Development of new possibilities to fill in the existing gap between models and phenomenology of instability in the lithosphere that will provide a new theoretical base for prediction of earthquakes and possibly control of critical phenomena in the lithosphere. Development of decision-making models for risk reduction of bankruptcy of insurance companies in the regions of natural catastrophes. New models of nonlinear chaotic dynamics will be developed and the nature of the main features of seismicity (clustering of events, frequency-magnitude relation, characteristic earthquakes etc.) will be studied in these models. Earth-specific models will be developed to clarify the relation between seismicity and tectonic movements in specific regions.

2. A spherical model of block-and-fault dynamics will be developed to study dynamics of lithospheric plates and the global seismicity patterns, a distribution of large events, plate interactions, migration of seismic activity along tectonic faults, and some other phenomena. A correlation model of peak characteristics of a strong motion (ground acceleration, velocity and displacements) and marcoseismic intensity (earthquake intensity) will be developed.

3. New numerical methods will be developed to solve the direct and inverse problems of thermal convection, to restore the motion and temperature in the geological past, and to analyze complex pattern of mantle convection. The restoration of mantle plumes and subducted lithosphere to their earlier stages allow to improve our knowledge on evolution and dynamics of the lithosphere and associated seismicity. Numerical models of geological processes in weak seismic regions will also be constructed (computer models of thermo-mechanical restoration of evolution of salt-related structures in the Pricaspian basin, Russia and Kazakhstan). The models can be used to forecast hydrocarbon potentials in the basin. Moreover, new exact and realistic characteristics of free oscillation of the Earth will be found to reconstruct the structure of the Earth.

4. New software for efficient calculation of surface wave spectral corrections due to focusing effects for any location of earthquake epicenter and station will be developed. These corrections will be used in different seismological applications, and first of all when estimating seismic source parameters and quality factor of the crust and upper mantle. The system of surface waves processing for source parameters determination will be modified taking into account the focusing effects. Source models for a number of recent earthquakes will be constructed. These models will be used for tectonic studies of correspondent seismic regions. The identity of the maps of lateral variations of surface wave phase velocities, obtained from kinematic observations (time of propagation) for calculation of dynamic wave characteristics will be tested. The map of seismotectonic deformations of Kuril-Kamchatka seismofocal zone will be constructed. The model of the Pliocene-quaternary tectonic transformation of Kamchatka region will be developed. Also new methods will be developed to solve inverse problems of gravimetry and magnetometry in three-dimensional space.

5. New methods, algorithms and software for combined analysis of available geophysical data will be developed; the Arc/Info Geographic Information System will provide the foundation of the approach. Geological, tectonic and topographic maps, gravity, heat flow, seismicity, remote sensing, satellite images in different regions will be obtained and processed. The databases will be developed on morphostructural zonation in Alps, Apennines and California. The MOST software will be developed to allow user-friendly interface. The modified software together with the databases will compose a software package for a free distribution. The information can be used in modeling of seismicity, lithosphere dynamics and mineral prospecting.

6. Development of algorithms and software for forecasting of the following socio-economic crises: surges of crimes (to be monitored in Los Angeles and Yaroslavl city, Russia); rise of unemployment (to be monitored in Western Europe and USA); outbursts of riots (to be monitored in European neighborhoods). The developed software can be adapted for prediction of another types of socio-economic crises.

FEASIBILITY of the project goal and results is based on (i) the results of the studies started within the framework of the ISTC projects #008-94 and #1293-99, proved to be quite successful, (ii) complementary expertise of the participants, and (iii) the close collaborations with the scientists from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and USA that were established.

SCOPE OF ACTIVITY of the project will include theoretical analysis of the problems under consideration; development of mathematical algorithms for solution of specific problems; development and testing of the software implementing the algorithms; numerical modeling; collecting of data - geological, tectonic and topographic maps, gravity, heat flow, seismicity, remote sensing, satellite images and also socio-economic indicators; data processing by means of the algorithms and software developed, preparation of scientific publications, reports, and presentations at scientific conferences, meetings, and seminars, and foreign travels to attend international scientific meetings and to contact the foreign collaborators.

POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTION OF THE FOREIGN COLLABORATORS from European Union and USA will include joint studies on the project subjects, exchange of methods, software and data, searching for possible practical applications of results obtained, and holding international workshops on the project subjects.

METHODOLOGY of the project is based on the following branches of applied mathematics which have applications in navigation and control of cruise missiles and in mathematical geophysics and socio-economic studies: analysis of behavior of dynamical systems described by differential equations (ordinary and with partial derivatives) and inverse problems for them; pattern recognition and scene analysis; computer analysis of geological and geophysical data and socio-economic indicators; numerical modeling.