George Adams’ work leads to popular theory bearing his name

Do a Google search for the “latest earth­quakes 2015” and you come up with more than 300,000 hits, sites listing quakes from Chile and Turkey to Alaska. What is much tougher to access are the names of those who have made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to our under­standing of those sliding plates. Among those con­trib­u­tors is Northeastern’s own George Adams, Col­lege of Engi­neering Dis­tin­guished Professor

Adams, who is in the Depart­ment of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engi­neering, iden­ti­fied a phe­nom­enon regarding the behavior of the waves gen­er­ated when one very flat object slides over another—say, when the Pacific plate encoun­ters the North Amer­ican plate along California’s San Andreas fault. Seis­mol­o­gists, taken with the clarity the theory brought to their under­standing of earth­quakes, named it Adams Insta­bility, after its prog­en­itor, George Adams.

“The theory of Adams Insta­bility, in addi­tion to its impor­tance in the basic sci­ence of solid mechanics, allows more accu­rate pre­dic­tions of the size of areas impacted by earth­quakes,” says Hanchen Huang, pro­fessor and chair of the Depart­ment of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engineering.

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Related Faculty: George G. Adams

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering