Goals of ICS

The goals of the ICS include achieving an increased understanding of the crust and lithosphere of the earth by utilizing the approaches of many disciplines and the expertise of scientists in academia, government, and industry.

Current Mission of ICS

The current mission of the ICS is to provide the research leadership, organizational structure and facilities to promote the cooperation of scientists from various research groups and organizations on problems concerning the earth's crust. At present the research agenda of the ICS comprises the study of crustal structure and tectonics, crustal materials, earthquakes, and hazardous waste disposal.

Contribution to the Instructional and Research Mission of the Campus

Research Highlights

Section V below outlines some of our more notable projects during this past year. These include: a finding of very high expected ground shaking in the Los Angeles basin as a result of modeling a hypothetical earthquake on the San Andreas fault; discovery that hydrocarbons leaking into the subsurface are rapidly consumed by bacteria and constitute a lower pollution risk than currently expected; participation of undergraduates on an Antarctic research expedition; and discovery of a possible inverse correlation between the rate of natural hydrocarbon seepage offshore Goleta and offshore oil production.

Graduate studies

ICS continues to involve nearly a dozen graduate students in thesis research projects that range the full gamut of our research agenda from earthquakes to hazardous waste. Graduate students are studying active faulting in the Santa Barbara area and seismic hazards for our own campus. Others are studying tectonics in the remote Brooks Range of Alaska. Students present their results at national meetings supported by ICS research grants. Last year graduate students Fabian Bonilla, Julie Bryce and David Oglesby presented papers at the Fall national meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Robert West presented at the national Fall meeting of the Geological Society of America, and David Oglesby also presented a paper at the Spring meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

Undergraduate studies

ICS has seen a large increase in the numbers of undergraduate students involved in our research program (Fig. 1), totaling 40 last year. In most cases these students are largely working independently and are not just assistants. Many are involved in independent research including the UCSB FRAP program, and the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program. For Summer 1995, we had four undergrads selected to be interns at ICS for the Southern California Earthquake Center. They did independent research on topics including ground motion expected from earthquakes to mapping fault lines in the Santa Barbara Channel. Four undergraduates are participating in the UC Campus-Laboratory Collaboration project (Section VIII) to determine the seismic hazard on our campus. Seven undergraduates participated in a research expedition to Antarctica this past winter.

Responding to the needs of the public

ICS activities respond to public interest in several ways including specific research projects (Section V) and public outreach (Section VI.1). Our research agenda and activities in earthquakes and environmental quality are of vital public interest.


ICS has an active outreach public program on earthquakes, described later on. We are frequently interviewed by the media to comment on earthquake events and issues. Our study of ground motion in the Los Angeles area was covered by national television. We installed real-time earthquake map video monitors in local high schools and on campus. We are in the process of studying seismic hazards for the UCSB campus.

Hydrocarbon Seeps

Offshore from UCSB are some of the largest submarine hydrocarbon seeps in the world. This natural seepage is responsible for local beach tar and air pollution. ICS is studying these seeps to quantify their impact and to describe their behavior.

Bioremediation of hydrocarbons

Leaking buried gasoline tanks have been identified in the past as a significant threat to ground water in California. In an ICS project, our researchers determined that consumption of hydrocarbons by bacteria in soils reduce this contamination in almost all case; an unexpected result.

ICS Historical perspective

Personnel including students

ICS has on its roles 13 faculty and 20 Professional Researchers as Principal or Co-Principal Investigators. The number of PIs has seen steady growth, doubling since 1990/91, mostly by the addition of Professionals. This past year we had five long-term visitors including one from industry, one from Yale, and three from French universities. Over the years our members have distinguished themselves by securing grants and national and international honors. During last year Dr. Lorne Everett received an honorary doctorate from Lakehead University in Ontario.

Our student roles have grown steadily, particularly the number of undergraduates involved in our research which has increased to 40 last year, doubling since 1991/92 (Fig. 1). Our undergraduates have secured their own honors. Kirsten Zellmer was named as outstanding senior in the Geological Sciences Department. Windy Brimer, Andy Byers, Jason McKenna and Mike Watkins were selected as 1995 Summer Interns for the SCEC. Undergraduate Erik Vanek received an award from The Society of Technical Communication for his paper on remote sensing of sea ice surrounding Antarctica.

Operation history

This past year ICS managed 38 projects worth well over $6 million. Our growth in both these categories continues at a steady rate (Fig. 2). We submitted 58 proposals last year requesting almost $7 million. Our success rate is well above national averages. Well over half our requests were awarded last year, and this has been fairly consistent over our history (Fig. 3). However, we have noticed a down trend in the percentage of funds received; last year we received 26% of our requested funding, down from a high of 42% in 1991/92 (Fig. 3). This could be interpreted as less generous funding of awards by agencies, reflecting increasingly austere federal budgets.