Portrait of Graham Kent outdoors.

Graham Kent, Ph.D.

Professor, Director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory


Dr. Graham M. Kent is Director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory/ and Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. Previous to July 2009, Graham was a Research Geophysicist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and had been Director of the Visualization Center at Scripps from 2001-2009. Dr. Kent is a native of South Lake Tahoe, California. He attended San Diego State University, where he studied Geophysics and graduated Valedictorian of the Class of 1985. Soon thereafter, he entered graduate school at Scripps Institution of Oceanography receiving his PhD in 1992.

After a 4-year-long appointment at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Graham returned to Scripps to continue his work in geophysics, with an emphasis toward seismic studies of extensional tectonics, ranging from magma chambers beneath mid-ocean ridges to fault hazards at Lake Tahoe. While at Scripps, he led an effort to use advanced visualization techniques to study faulting and volcanic systems.

Dr. Kent has conducted a variety of studies around the globe, including tsunami and ocean bottom seismic research. He’s mapped earthquake faults beneath Lake Tahoe that have produced tsunamis and most recently has placed important constraints on southern San Andreas Fault recurrence times through mapping cross faults beneath the Salton Sea. More recently, his research interests include mapping fault hazards within the Walker Lane using seismic imagery in lakes and airborne LiDAR on land. He was one of two PIs on a $15M research program to map faults hazards offshore of Southern California (California Public Utility Commission funded) in association with nuclear storage at San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS). Another current project is the $4M California High Speed Rail Geohazard evaluation program.

He also brought ShakeOut to Nevada in 2010 (1st state to join California); the 9th Annual Great Nevada Shakeout earthquake drill (Oct. 18th, 2018) in partnership with the Great Shakeout will be the largest combined public earthquake drill in the world. 590,000+ Nevadans participated in this exercise in 2017. Kent also spearheaded AlertTahoe, a public and private program to bring earthquake early warning (EEW) to the Tahoe region, and build out a fire camera network for early detection of ignition in the basin. Together, this system is designed to provide hardened communications for 'all hazards' through a redundant mesh microwave network. The real-time Axis cameras have scored early successes in alerting fire personnel of the earliest stages of fire ignition at Tahoe (USFS, Tahoe Prosperity enter and others), and more recently, in central Nevada as part of a parallel Wildland Fire Camera network funded by BLM. In the inaugural year (2015), over two dozen fires were either discovered or early Intel was provided in Tahoe and central Nevada. In 2016, this number jumped to 108 fires, and last year, 240+ fires within the larger ALERTWildfire footprint that included Tahoe, central Nevada and San Diego County (supported by San Diego Gas and Electric). ALERTWildfire was geared up for fire season 2018 to place an additional 50+ existing cameras in the field to widen the footprint of this successful program, including support from SoCal Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric. AlertTahoe continues to team with the Tahoe Prosperity Center to raise funds to expand the camera network through private donations. The 2018 field season included installs in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Orange County/Los Angeles and the North Bay Area. Partner institutions are UC San Diego and the University of Oregon.

He is married to Stephanie Kent, a Tahoe native, and has two children, Matthew and Christine. Graham was also a NASA Astronaut Finalist, Class of 1996.

2018 Publications:

  • Arnulf, A. F., A. J. Harding, G. M. Kent, and W. S. D. Wilcock, Structure, seismicity, and accretionary processes at the hot spot-influenced Axial Seamount on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123, 4618–4646. https://doi.org/ 10.1029/2017JB015131

2017 Publications:

  • Sahakian, V., J. Bormann, N. Driscoll, A. Harding, G. Kent and S. Wesnousky, Seismic constraints on the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault: Implications for the length and magnitude of future earthquake ruptures, Journal of Geophysical Research (Solid Earth), pp. 1-21, doi: 10.1002/2016JB013467, 2017.

Selection of 2016 Publications:

  • Noble, P.J., G.I. Ball, S.H. Zimmerman, J. Maloney, S.B. Smith, G. Kent, K.D. Adams, R.E. Karlin and N. Driscoll, Holocene paleoclimate history of Fallen Leaf Lake, CA., from geochemistry and sedimentology of well-dated sediment cores, Quaternary Science Reviews, 193-210, 131, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.037, 2016.
  • Angster, S., S. Wesnousky, W. Huang, G. Kent, T. Nakata, and H. Goto, Application of UAV photography to refining the slip rate on the Pyramid Lake fault zone, Nevada, Bulletin Seismological Society of America, 106,(2), p. 1-14, doi: 10.1785/0120150144, 2016.
  • Smith, K., G. Kent, D. Slater, G. Plank, M. Williams, M. McCarthy, F. Vernon, N. Driscoll and H.-W. Braun, Integrated multi-hazard regional networks: Earthquake warning/response, wildfire detection/response, and extreme weather tracking, Special Volume: Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, Applied Geology in California, editors Robert Anderson and Horacio Ferriz, p. 599-612, 2016.


  • B.S. 1985 San Diego State University, San Diego CA
  • Ph.D. 1992 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego CA

Professional certifications

  • Valedictorian, Class of ‘85, San Diego State University
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, 1985
  • Post Doctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1992
  • Finalist, NASA Astronaut Candidate, 1995/6