Professor Sandy Steacy

Sandra Steacy
Head of School
School of Physical Sciences
Faculty of Sciences

Head of School, Physical Sciences, University of Adelaide.

Professor Sandy Steacy

Head of School, Physical Sciences, University of Adelaide.

My research is in the general area of operational earthquake forecasting, in essence the determination of time dependent changes to earthquake probabilities. My work focuses on the computation of Coulomb stress changes which affect earthquake likelihood in time and space, and in combining this physics based approach with geological and statistical models. I was a member of the expert elicitation panel on future seismic hazard in the Canterbury region whose work informed the revised building codes in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was also lead editor of a special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research on ‘stress transfer, earthquake triggering, and time-dependent seismic hazard’, and am lead author of the review paper that introduces the volume.

Current research activities

  • Developing hybrid Coulomb-statistical models for forecasting aftershock rates.
  • Analysing the controls on Coulomb triggering in earthquake sequences.
  • Assessing the scientific constraints on the applicability of the Coulomb stress technique to time dependent earthquake hazard.
  • Investigating methods of communicating changes in earthquake probability

Previous research activities

  • Investigated stress interaction and earthquake triggering in a complex 3-D fault network model.
  • Modelled the next likely earthquake and tsunami to affect the island of Sumatra.
  • Formulated realistic stress transfer rules to simulate stress concentrations in cellular automata models of the earthquake process.
  • Investigated earthquake nucleation, rupture, and statistics in heterogeneous cellular automata.
  • Developed hybrid cellular automaton – elastic model to simulate mining induced seismicity.
  • Investigated temporal and spatial seismicity patterns with heterogeneous bond-breaking computer model.
  • Interpreted frictional parameters with physical model that included effects of dilatancy on transients associated with velocity steps.
  • Calculated shear strength of natural faults and scaling of frictional parameters with damage mechanics formulation.
  • Developed cellular automaton to simulate fractal fragmentation.


Date Position Institution name
2015 Head of School, Physical Sciences University of Adelaide
2013 Visiting Scientist GNS Science
2009 - 2014 Director, Environmental Sciences Research Institute University of Ulster
2007 - 2014 Professor of Earthquake Physics University of Ulster
2005 - 2007 Reader in Geophysics University of Ulster
2002 - 2005 Lecturer in Geophysics University of Ulster
1999 - 2002 Research Lecturer in Geophysics University of Ulster
1994 - 1999 Research Officer University of Ulster
1992 - 1993 Visiting Lecturer California State University, Dominguez Hills
1992 - 1992 Geophysicist California Office of Emergency Services
1992 - 1994 Research Associate University of Southern California
1992 - 1990 Visiting Lecturer, Pomona College Pomona College
1988 - 1988 Summer Geophysicist Arco Oil and Gas
1988 - 1992 Research Assistant University of Southern California
1985 - 1987 Teaching Assistant University of Southern California


Date Institution name Country Title
1992 University of Southern California United States Ph.D. Geophysics
1985 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States B.S. Geology


Date Citation
2016 Bucholc,M, Steacy,S, 2016, Tidal stress triggering of earthquakes in Southern California, Geophysical Journal International, 205, 2, 681-693 10.1093/gji/ggw045
2016 Sunbul,F, Nalbant,SS, Simão,NM, Steacy,S, 2016, Investigating viscoelastic postseismic deformation due to large earthquakes in East Anatolia, Turkey, Journal of Geodynamics, 94-95, 50-58 10.1016/j.jog.2016.01.002
2014 Steacy,S, Jimenez,A, Holden,C, 2014, Stress triggering and the Canterbury earthquake sequence, Geophysical Journal International, 196, 1, 473-480 10.1093/gji/ggt380
2014 Steacy,S, Gerstenberger,M, Williams,C, Rhoades,D, Christophersen,A, 2014, A new hybrid Coulomb/statistical model for forecasting aftershock rates, Geophysical Journal International, 196, 2, 918-923 10.1093/gji/ggt404
2013 Nalbant,S, McCloskey,J, Steacy,S, NicBhloscaidh,M, Murphy,S, 2013, Interseismic coupling, stress evolution, and earthquake slip on the Sunda megathrust, Geophysical Research Letters, 40, 16, 4204-4208 10.1002/grl.50776
2011 Zechar,JD, Hardebeck,JL, Michael,AJ, Naylor,M, Steacy,S, Wiemer,S, Zhuang,J, 2011, Community online resource for statistical seismicity analysis, Seismological Research Letters, 82, 5, 686-690 10.1785/gssrl.82.5.686
2008 McCloskey,J, Antonioli,A, Piatanesi,A, Sieh,K, Steacy,S, Nalbant,S, Cocco,M, Giunchi,C, Huang,J, Dunlop,P et al, 2008, Tsunami threat in the Indian Ocean from a future megathrust earthquake west of Sumatra, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 265, 1-2, 61-81 10.1016/j.epsl.2007.09.034
2007 Hetherington,A, Steacy,S, 2007, Fault heterogeneity and earthquake scaling, Geophysical Research Letters, 34, 16, - 10.1029/2007GL030365
2007 McCloskey,J, Antonioli,A, Piatanesi,A, Sieh,K, Steacy,S, Nalbant,S, Cocco,M, Giunchi,C, Huang,J, Dunlop,P et al, 2007, Near-field propagation of tsunamis from megathrust earthquakes, Geophysical Research Letters, 34, 14, - 10.1029/2007GL030494
2006 Nalbant,S, Steacy,S, Mccloskey,J, 2006, Stress transfer relations among the earthquakes that occurred in Kerman province, southern Iran since 1981, Geophysical Journal International, 167, 1, 309-318 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03119.x
2005 Nalbant,S, Steacy,S, Sieh,K, Natawidjaja,D, McCloskey,J, 2005, Seismology: Earthquake risk on the Sunda trench, Nature, 435, 7043, 756-757 10.1038/nature435756a
2005 Steacy,S, Gomberg,J, Cocco,M, 2005, Introduction to special section: Stress transfer, earthquake triggering, and time-dependent seismic hazard, Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth, 110, 5, 1-12 10.1029/2005JB003692
2005 Nalbant,S, McCloskey,J, Steacy,S, 2005, Lessons on the calculation of static stress loading from the 2003 Bingol, Turkey earthquake, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 235, 3-4, 632-640 10.1016/j.epsl.2005.04.036
2005 McCloskey,J, Nalbant,S, Steacy,S, 2005, Indonesian earthquake: Earthquake risk from co-seismic stress, Nature, 434, 7031, 291-291 10.1038/434291a
2005 Steacy,S, Nalbant,S, McCloskey,J, Nostro,C, Scotti,O, Baumont,D, 2005, Onto what planes should Coulomb stress perturbations be resolved?, Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth, 110, 5, 1-14 10.1029/2004JB003356
2004 Steacy,S, Marsan,D, Nalbant,S, McCloskey,J, 2004, Sensitivity of static stress calculations to the earthquake slip distribution, Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth, 109, 4, - 10.1029/JB002365
2003 McCloskey,J, Nalbant,S, Steacy,S, Nostro,C, Scotti,O, Baumont,D, 2003, Structural constraints on the spatial distribution of aftershocks, Geophysical Research Letters, 30, 12, 12-11 10.1029/2003GL017225
2003 Utkucu,M, Nalbant,S, McCloskey,J, Steacy,S, Alptekin,O, 2003, Slip distribution and stress changes associated with the 1999 November 12, Düzce (Turkey) earthquake (Mw = 7.1), Geophysical Journal International, 153, 1, 229-241 10.1046/j.1365-246X.2003.01904.x
2002 Nalbant,S, McCloskey,J, Steacy,S, Barka,A, 2002, Stress accumulation and increased seismic risk in Eastern Turkey, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 195, 3-4, 291-298 10.1016/S0012-821X(01)00592-1
2000 Marsan,D, Bean,C, Steacy,S, McCloskey,J, 2000, Observation of diffusion processes in earthquake populations and implications for the predictability of seismicity systems, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 105, B12, 28081-28094 10.1029/2000JB900232
1999 Marsan,D, Bean,C, Steacy,S, McCloskey,J, 1999, Spatio-temporal analysis of stress diffusion in a mining-induced seismicity system, Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 24, 3697-3700 10.1029/1999GL010829
1999 Steacy,SJ, McCloskey,J, 1999, Heterogeneity and the earthquake magnitude-frequency distribution, Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 7, 899-902 10.1029/1999GL900135
1998 Steacy,S, McCloskey,J, 1998, What controls an earthquake's size? Results from a heterogeneous cellular automaton, Geophysical Journal International, 133, 1, F11-F14 10.1046/j.1365-246X.1998.1331548.x
1996 Steacy,S, McCloskey,J, Bean,C, Ren,J, 1996, Heterogeneity in a self-organized critical earthquake model, Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 4, 383-386 10.1029/96GL00257
1994 Sammis,C, Steacy,S, 1994, The micromechanics of friction in a granular layer, Pure and Applied Geophysics PAGEOPH, 142, 3-4, 777-794 10.1007/BF00876064
1992 Steacy,SJ, Sammis,CG, 1992, A damage mechanics model for fault zone friction, Journal of Geophysical Research, 97, B1, 587-594 10.1029/91JB02338
1991 Steacy,S, Sammis,C, 1991, An automaton for fractal patterns of fragmentation, Nature, 353, 6341, 250-252 10.1038/353250a0

Conference Papers

Date Citation
2016 Welsh,M, Steacy,S, Begg,S, Navarro,D, 2016, A tale of two disasters: biases in risk communication, The 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (COGSCI), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1997 Steacy,SJ, McCloskey,J, Bean,CJ, Ren,JW, 1997, Simulating seismicity in Creighton Mine: A 3-D self-organized critical model, 4th International Symposium on Rockbursts and Seismicity in Mines, KRAKOW, POLAND

Natural Environment Research Council, PURE Associates Scheme, J. McCloskey, M. Hope, S. Steacy, and P. Dunlop, Dec. 2013 – May 2014.

European Commission Framework VII: Strategies and Tools for Real Time Earthquake Risk Reduction (REAKT), S. Steacy, Sept. 2011 – August 2014.

European Science Foundation / Austrian Science Fund (FWF): Research conference - Continuing Challenges In Earthquake Dynamics – New Methods For Observing and Modelling A Multi-Scale System, S. Steacy, D. Marsan, S. Hainzl, and A. Christophersen, conference held Sept. 2011.

Natural Environment Research Council: Testing a hybrid Coulomb/statistical model of aftershock occurrence, S. Steacy, Feb. 2010 – Jan. 2012.

Leverhulme Trust: Research Fellowship – Rate-state friction and earthquake probabilities, S. Steacy, Sept. 2008 – August 2010.

Natural Environment Research Council: Evaluation of historical earthquake interaction and seismic risk to western Sumatra, J. McCloskey, S. Steacy, and S. S. Nalbant, July 2008 – Dec. 2009.

European Science Foundation / Austrian Science Fund (FWF): Research conference – New challenges in earthquake dynamics: Observing and modeling a multi-scale system, D. Marsan, S. Steacy, S. Hainzl, and A. Helmstetter, conference held Oct. 2008.

Natural Environment Research Council: Urgent assessment of the earthquake and tsunami hazard in western Sumatra following the 09/07 Mentawai Islands earthquake sequence, J. McCloskey, S. Steacy, and S. S. Nalbant, Nov. 2007 – Aug. 2008.

Natural Environment Research Council: Stress interaction, rate-state friction, and earthquake triggering, S. Steacy, April 2007 – Dec. 2009.

Griffiths Geoscience Research Awards: Capability building for the enhanced geophysical interpretation of the dynamics of CO2 sequestration, J. McCloskey, S. Nalbant, S. Steacy, and R. Cassidy, Sept. 2007 – June 2013

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: Assessing tsunami hazard in Sumatra: A Royal Society Summer Science exhibit, S. Steacy and J. McCloskey, July – Oct. 2006.

Natural Environment Research Council: Tsunami Risk in the Indian Ocean from threatened M>8 event under Mentawai Islands, J. McCloskey, S. Steacy, and S. S. Nalbant, Oct. 2005 – Dec. 2006.

Natural Environment Research Council: The influence of viscoelastic relaxation on the effective duration of Coulomb stress perturbations, S. S. Nalbant, J. McCloskey, and S. Steacy, £26,924, Aug. 2005 – July, 2007.

Natural Environment Research Council: Urgent assessment of the location and orientation of the Bingöl rupture by mapping surface breaks, J. McCloskey, S. Steacy, and S.S. Nalbant, June – Oct. 2003.

European Commission Framework VI Marie Curie: Constrained heterogeneous loading of complex fault networks (CONSTRAIN), S. Steacy and J. McCloskey, Feb. 2005 – Jan. 2007.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: An investigation of the origin and nature of the Gutenberg-Richter relation, S. Steacy, J. McCloskey, and P. Morrow, March 2002 – Feb. 2004.

European Commission Framework V: Towards practical, real-time estimation of spatial aftershock probabilities: a feasibility study in earthquake hazard (PRESAP), J. McCloskey and S. Steacy, June 2000 – Sept. 2003.

Natural Environment Research Council: An investigation of the relation between Coulomb stress perturbations, large aftershocks, and fault structure, S. Steacy and J. McCloskey, Dec. 1999 – Dec. 2001.



Head of School
8313 4380
North Terrace
Physics Building
Room Number
G 31
Org Unit
School of Physical Sciences