Haitian Scientific Society 2018 Seminar Series

Data Assimilation and Fusion Platform for Earthquake Forecasting

Pierre-Richard Cornely
Science & Technology Division, Chair Eastern Nazarene College


Earthquakes are among the most dangerous events that occur on earth and many scientists have been investigating the underlying processes that take place before earthquakes occur. These investigations are fueling efforts towards developing both single and multiple parameter earthquake forecasting methods based on earthquake precursors. The frequency of occurrence of earthquakes has increased remarkably in the last three to five years. In fact, the United States office of Geological Survey (USGS) reports that a number of significant earthquakes have occurred around the world in the last 30 days ranging from M4.2 to M7.7. There is therefore no doubt that earthquakes are becoming a significant threat to human lives and to the world’s infrastructure and the scientific community needs to gather all of its resources in order to address the important challenge of earthquake forecasting. Eastern Nazarene College (ENC) departments of Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology and Chemistry have been working collaboratively to develop an earthquake forecasting strategy based on earthquake precursor signals. Earthquake precursor signals are signals that begin to manifest days to weeks, to even months before an earthquake occurs. Many of such precursors have been identified in the last three to five years at ENC and many student's senior theses have contributed to better understanding these precursors. One potential earthquake precursor parameter, that has received significant attention within the last few years, is the ionospheric total electron content (TEC). Despite its growing popularity, TEC has been under great scrutiny because of the underlying biases associated with the process of acquiring and processing Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) TEC data. Future work in the field will need to demonstrate the ability to acquire TEC data with the least amount of biases possible thereby, preserving the integrity of the data. Summer research 2017 at ENC was significant because our research group made great progress towards developing a framework for a Data Assimilation and Fusion platform for earthquake forecasting. In this presentation, we will briefly discuss the subject of earthquake forecasting, the precursor signals under consideration as well as the proposed approach of Data Assimilation and Fusion for earthquake forecasting. We will also discuss recent progress in improving the integrity of the TEC data acquisition and processing. The overall purpose of this talk is to provide a general understanding of this new approach to earthquake forecasting research and to suggest a map for future work.

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Cornely’s background includes many roles in both the Corporate world and Academia. In Corporate, he has served as President and CEO of 374’s Electric Power Corporation, Project Manager at Synergy Incorporated and a Senior Systems Engineer at Raytheon. As an academic, Dr. Cornely has developed a novel class of algorithms, commonly known as: “Flexible Prior models”, to predict the variations in the Earth’s ionosphere in near real time. These algorithms have been quite useful for correcting Radar and Communication propagation errors in Civilian Aviation and in several other important military applications. Recently, Dr. Cornely has adapted these algorithms to earthquake forecasting, a novel idea that relates variations in the earth’s ionosphere to the movement of tectonic plates. Earthquake forecasting has become one of the most significant problems facing scientists, as well as the people living on our beloved planet. Dr. Cornely has also taught at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels in the Electrical Engineering departments at Northeastern University, the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and at the Raytheon Learning Institute. Since joining Eastern Nazarene College (ENC), Dr. Cornely has been entrusted with many academic management positions and increasing levels of responsibility with several appointments: Department Chair of the Physics and Engineering (2013), Department Chair Computer Science (2014), Science & Technology Division Chair (2017: responsible for Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Forensic Science, Chemistry and Biology). For the foreseeable future, Dr. Cornely hopes to continue to use a combination of his Corporate and Academic experiences to develop an undergraduate research program that applies the core theories of Science and Engineering to many interesting and deserving world applications.

Related Publications:

• Cornely, P. R. & Hughes, J., Acta Geophysica, ”Unbiased total electron content (UTEC), their fluctuations, and correlation with seismic activity over Japan”: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11600-017-0105-y, December 2017
• Joseph Hammerstrom, Pierre-Richard Cornely, Total Electron Content (TEC) Variations and Correlation with Seismic Activity over Japan, Journal of Young Investigators (best paper in the science category 2016), October 2016
• Michael O’Brien, Pierre-Richard Cornely, Analyzing Anomalies in the Ionosphere above Haiti Surrounding the 2010 Earthquake, Journal of Young Investigators, November 2015


University of Massachusetts Boston
Science Hall Second Floor Room 62
100 William T. Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125

Directions and parking information can be found at: http://www.umb.edu/parking_transport/directions.html

Date and time:

Saturday, April 28, 2018

12:45 PM—2:30 PM