Sandy Steacy

Sandy Steacy

School of Physical Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

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.
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2017 - 2018 Deputy Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences University of Adelaide
    2015 Head of School, Physical Sciences University of Adelaide
    2013 - 2016 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
  • Education

    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

Australian Research Council, Origins and Distributions of Intraplate Earthquakes, M.C. Quigley, S. Steacy, and L.N. Moresi, Jan. 2017 – Dec. 2019.

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.



The University of Adelaide

  • Principles and Practice of Research (PPR1): Led two workshops on ‘hot topic’ of climate change, 2017.
  • Supervisor of two honours projects in earthquake physics, 2016.
  • Supervisor of one PPR2 student, 2016.

University of Ulster

  • How the Earth Works (EGM105): Coordinator of module that provided first year students with a broad understanding of the formation of the universe, solar system, and Earth as well as an overview of plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, and Earth surface processes.
  • Natural and Environment Hazards (EGM517): Coordinator, designer, and main instructor of final year module that illustrated the science underlying several physical and climatic natural hazards, techniques for mitigation, and the interaction between the natural and human environments in assessing risk.
  • Environmental Issues (EGM104): Contributor to module that provided first year students with a broad overview of important environmental problems.
  • Environmental Science Synoptic Paper (EGM504): Lecturer and tutor in module that helped final year students integrate their learning from the overall course.
  • Environmental Science Dissertation  (EGM503): Supervisor and marker of undergraduate dissertations.
  • Atmospheric and Oceanic Interactions (EGM305): Coordinator, principal designer, and principal instructor of module that examined basic physics of atmospheric and oceanic circulation and the interaction between them over a range of temporal and spatial scales.
  • Principles and Practice of Environmental Science (ENS131): Coordinator, co-designer, and contributor to module that enabled first year students with varied math and science backgrounds to develop basic scientific and numeracy skills, as well as techniques for approaching and solving scientific problems.
  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2016 - ongoing ARC College of Experts
    2007 - 2011 NERC Peer Review College

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