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Robert W. Clayton

Professor of Geophysics
Rob Clayton
Contact information for Robert W. Clayton
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Email: clay@​
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More Information

B.A.Sc., University of Toronto, 1973; M.Sc., University of British Columbia, 1976; Ph.D., Stanford University, 1981. Assistant Professor of Exploration Geophysics, Caltech, 1981-85; Associate Professor, 1985-89; Professor of Geophysics, 1989-. Executive Officer for Geophysics, 1987-94; Acting Director, Seismological Laboratory, 1989; 2008-09; Deputy Director, 1989-90; Academic Officer, 2008-19.
Research Areas: Geophysics

Research Interests

Crustal and upper mantle seismology; using array seismology to determine the properties of subduction and rifting; tectonics of Mexico and Peru; measuring temporal variations in seismic properties using ambient noise; marine geophysics; exploration geophysics; near-surface geophysics. Research website:

Crustal Seismology

The research interests of Robert W. Clayton are in determining variations in Earth properties from seismic waves. This research is being pursued on many scales, from the fine scale of crustal and exploration seismology to the larger scale of regional seismology.

Large-scale seismic experiment provide some of the highest resolution image of crustal structure. In Southern California, there have been three major large-scale surveys which have produced important results: the trans-Sierra transect, and the LARSE I and II surveys across the San Gabriel Mts, north of  Los Angeles.

Array Seismology

Another intriguing aspect of the array is the possibility of providing early warning of strong ground shaking. Events detected in one part of the network can potentially be used to provide warning in other parts.

Numerical Wave Simulation

Wave propagation in 3D has become fairly routine. The current limitation is in determining a velocity model with sufficient resolution to match the accuracy of the calculations. We have participated in the development of the SCEC 3D velocity model which contains the basins and other features in the greater Los Angeles area.

We have also developed a technique for computing reciprocal Green's functions which allows us to simulate the effect of multiple sources with one numerical calculation. This allows us to economically try different scenarios on a given fault.

Selected Publications

Please see Robert Clayton's publications page: