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Friday, September 30, 2022

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SDSU researcher Jillian Maloney (right) studies sediment cores in her San Diego State University geology lab. (Video: Scott Hargrove/SDSU)

Research Horizons: Examining Coastal Faults

Geologist Jillian Maloney works to predict earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis in coastal areas.
By Kellie Woodhouse and Scott Hargrove

SDSU’s Research Horizons series highlights early career faculty and their burgeoning research projects.

Jillian Maloney is intimately familiar with both the beauty and fragility of the Earth’s coastal zones. 

People flock to coastal regions for their majestic beauty and the accessibility they boast. Yet these regions also face a unique risk for natural disaster, something Maloney, a marine geologist, has been studying in her San Diego State University lab for years. 

Maloney uses sonar images and studies underwater sediment layers to examine critical underwater faults in San Diego Bay and elsewhere, in order to better understand the likelihood of future earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis. 

“Sediment is like a record of earth’s history, telling us the story of our planet’s climate, biosphere and natural disasters,” she said. Analyzing it “allows us to predict how large future earthquakes might be and potentially provide lifesaving data to coastal communities.”