Casual headshot of Steven Wesnousky.

Steven G. Wesnousky

Foundation Professor, Director of the Center for Neotectonic Studies


Dr. Wesnousky studied geology as an undergraduate at the University of Santa Barbara and seismology as a graduate student at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Following brief stops as a post-doctoral researcher at California Institute of Geology and as a Research Professor at the University of Memphis, he accepted his current position as a member of the Academic faculty and Director of the Center for Neotectonic Studies here at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1989. During his 30 years at UNR he has combined his interests in geology and seismology in researching aspects of the mechanics of the earthquake process that may be used to quantify seismic hazard and deformation of the earth’s crust through geologic time

Research interests

The main focus of my research over the years has been study of geologically recent motions of the Earth's crust, particularly those produced by earthquakes, with the goals of understanding the physics of earthquake recurrence, the growth of mountains, and the seismic hazard embodied in these processes.

Courses taught

  • GEOL 446-646 PHOTOGEOLOGY-IMAGE INTERPRETATION.  Application of photogeologic and image interpretation techniques for study and evaluation of terrestrial landscapes.
  • GEOL 730 ADVANCED GEOLOGY OF NEVADA. Tectonic and stratigraphic development of Nevada through geologic time.
  • GEOL 735 NEOTECTONICS AND SEISMIC HAZARD. Geomorphology of active faults. Determination of fault slip rates, age and size of paleoearthquakes, and incorporation of geologic data into seismic hazard analyses.
  • GEOL 736 SEISMOTECTONICS.  Frictional, thermal and tectonic constraints on the observed spatial, depth, size and mechanism distribution of earthquakes and faults in the U.S. and around the globe.
  • GEOL 737  NEOTECTONIC AND QUATERNARY MAPPING.  Field mapping of Quaternary sediments and morphology along actively faulted rangefronts.
  • GEOL 738 QUATERNARY FIELD MAPPING EXERCISES. Field mapping exercises designed to elucidate Quaternary surficial processes.


  • Ph.D. (Seismology) Columbia University, City of New York, 1982
  • B.A. (Geology) University of California at Santa Barbara, 1975

Professional certifications

  • Board Member Southern California Earthquake Center, 2020
  • Visiting Faculty, King Abdul University of Science and Technology, 2015
  • Visiting Scholar, State Key Lab of Earthquake Dynamics, Beijing, 2014
  • Lecturer, Earthquake tectonics and hazard on the continents, ICTP, Trieste, Italy, 2013
  • Lecturer, ICTP Indo-Asian Collision Zone Workshop, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2012
  • NSF Earthscope Speaker Series, 2010-011
  • Visiting Faculty, Universita dell’Insubria, Como and Instituto Nazionale de Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome Italy, 2010
  • Visiting Faculty, Hiroshima University, 2010
  • Distinguished Faculty Award, Geology Department, UCSB, 2009
  • Foundation Professorship, University of Nevada, Reno 2008
  • F. Donald. Tibbetts Distinguished Teacher of the Year, UNR, 2008
  • Mackay School of Mines and Engineering co-Outstanding Researcher 2008
  • LeMay Award for Teaching Excellence, College of Science, UNR, 2007
  • UNAVCO-GeoEarthscope LiDAR Working Group, 2007.
  • Fulbright Scholar in Venezuela, 2005.
  • Professeur Invite a Jussieu, Paris VII, France, 2004
  • Visiting Professor, Institute of Nuclear and Geological Sciences, New Zealand, 2004-2005 (Nov-Feb)
  • S. Calif Integrated Geodetic Network (SCIGN) Coord. Board, 1999-2002
  • Otto Glogau Best Paper Award, New Zealand Soc. for Earthquake Eng., 2000.
  • CIRES Visiting Scholar Research Fellowship, University of Colorado, 1998
  • Fulbright Foreign Scholar Award in India, 1997-1998
  • President of Seismological Society of America, 1995-1997
  • Board of Directors, Seismological Society of America, 1993-1995
  • Associate Editor, Bull. of Seismological Soc. of America, 1988-1993
  • South. Calif. Earthq. Center, Participating Member. 1991-2001, 2006-
  • Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship, 1994.
  • Outstanding Researcher Award, Mackay School of Mines, UNR, 1992
  • Panel Member, USGS National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), 1988-1991, 1996, 2000, 2001
  • Outstanding Young Researcher Award, Memphis State University, 1989

Selected publications

  • Angster, S. A., S. G. Wesnousky, P. Figueiredo, L. A. Owen, S. Hammer (2019), Late Quaternary slip rates for faults of the Central Walker Lane: Spatiotemporal strain release in a strike-slip fault system, Geosphere, v. 15, no. 5, p. 1460–1478,
  • Wesnousky, S. G., Y. Kumahara, T. Nakata, D. Chamlagain, and P. Neupane (2019), Large Himalayan Frontal Thrust paleoearthquake at Khayarmara in eastern Nepal, Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 174, May, 346-351.
  • Perez, O.P., Wesnousky, S. G., De La Rosa, R., Marquez, J., Uzcatequi, R., Qintero, C. Liberal, L., Mora-Paez, H., and W. Szeliga (2018), On the interaction of the North Andes Plate with the Caribbean and South American Plates in northwestern South America from GPS geodesy and seismic data, Geophysical Journal International, 214,1986-2001
  • Wesnousky, S. G., Y. Kumahara, T. Nakata, D. Chamlagain, and P. Neupane (2018), New observations disagree with previous interpretations of surface rupture along the Himalayan Frontal Thrust during the great 1934 Bihar-Nepal earthquake, Geophysical Research Letters, 45.
  • Pierce, I. K., S. G., Wesnousky, and L. A. Owen, (2017), Terrestrial cosmogenic surface exposure dating of moraines at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, California, and slip rate estimate for the West Tahoe Fault, Geomorphology, 298, 63-71.
  • Wesnousky, S. G., Y. Kumahara, D. Chamlagain, I. K. Pierce, T. Reedy, S. J. Angster, and B. Giri, (2017), Large paleoearthquake timing and displacement near Damak in eastern Nepal on the Himalayan Frontal Thrust, Geophy. Res. Lett., 44, 8219-8226.
  • Li, X., Huang, W., Pierce, K. D., Angster, S. J., and S. G. Wesnousky (2017) Characterizing the Quaternary expression of active faulting along the Olinghouse, Carson, and Wabuska lineaments of the Walker Lane, Geosphere, Geosphere, v. 13, no. 6 doi:10.1130/GES01483.1
  • Biasi, G., and S. G. Wesnousky (2017) Bends and Ends of Surface Ruptures, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 107, 6, 2543-2560
  • Anderson, J.G., Biasi, B. and S. G. Wesnousky (2017) Fault scaling relationships depend on average geological slip rate, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 107, 6, 2561-2577
  • Li, X., Li, C., Zhang, P., Wesnousky, S.G., Zheng, W. Wang, X., and K. D. Pierce (2017) Paleoseismology and Slip Rate of the Western Tianjingshan Fault of NE Tibet, China, Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 146, 304-316.
  • Sahakian, V., Borman, J., Driscoll, N., Harding, A., Kent, G., and S. G. Wesnousky (2017), Imaging and Mapping of the Newport Inglewood Rose Canyon Fault: Implications for the Magnitude and Length of Future Earthquake Ruptures, Journal of Geophysical Research, 122, 2085–2105, doi:10.1002/2016JB013467.
  • Wesnousky, S.G., Y. Kumahara, D. Chamlagain, I. Pierce, A. Karki, and D. Gautam (2017), Geological Observations on Large Earthquakes along the Himalayan Frontal Fault near Kathmandu, Nepal, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 457, 366-375.
  • *Pierce, K. D., and S. G. Wesnousky (2016) Pierce, I., and S. G. Wesnousky (2016), On a flawed conclusion that the 1255 A.D. earthquake ruptured 800 km of the Himalayan Frontal Thrust east of Kathmandu, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL070426.
  • Wesnousky, S.G., R. W. Briggs, M. Caffee, R. Ryerson, R. Finkel, and L. A. Owen (2016), Terrestrial cosmogenic surface exposure dating of glacial and associated landforms in the Ruby Mountains of Central Nevada and along the northeastern flank of the Sierra Nevada, Geomorphology, 268, 72-81, 2016
  • Biasi, G. P. and S. G. Wesnousky (2016), Steps and Gaps in Ground Ruptures: Empirical Bounds on Rupture Propagation, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 106, 3, 106, 3, 1110-1124.
  • Wesnousky, S. G. (2016), Biggest Little Contributions, Seismological Research Letters, 87 (28), 397-400, 2016.
  • Angster, S., Wesnousky, S. G., Huang, W., Kent, G., Nakata, T., and H. Goto, (2016), Application of UAV Photography to Refining the Slip Rate on the Pyramid Lake Fault Zone, Nevada, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 106, 785–798, April 2016, doi: 10.1785/0120150144.
  • Angster, S., E. J. Fielding, Wesnousky, S. G., Pierce, I., Chmlagain,D., Gautam, D., Upreti, B. N., Kumahara, Y., Nakata, T., (2015), Field Reconnaissance after the 25 April 2015 M 7.8 Gorkha Earthquake, Seismological Research Letters, 86, 6, 1506-1513, 2015.