The academic literature is the primary source for current developments in science. But limited access to journals as well as the widespread use of technical jargon can inhibit the dissemination of new knowledge to scientists from other fields and to non-scientists. These serve as major barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration with non-geoscientists and to efforts to further public understanding of geoscience research. Meanwhile, traditional science news focuses on topics of obvious interest to the public, such as geohazards or climate change. While engaging with non-geoscientists on these topics is important, the majority of geoscience research lacks a mechanism for generating public interest. “Bites” sites, originally introduced in the astronomy community, are blogs dedicated to communicating new developments in science to a broad audience. Each bite is an engaging, short (400-700 word) summary that explains an exciting new scientific paper and discusses its importance in the field. Bites are typically written by graduate students and other early career scientists about recently published articles that have not been picked up by more traditional science news outlets. These sites serve three key purposes: 1) to keep the interested public – especially university students who may consider careers in geoscience – up to date with recent developments in the field, 2) to generate attention for new work that traditional science media outlets may miss, and 3) to give early career scientists practice with public-facing writing and editing, which are critical skills both within and beyond academia. Here we present the new site Geobites, targeted at communicating new geoscience (broadly defined) research to the public. We show examples of articles on Geobites, diagram the structure of a good article, present initial site analytics, and solicit feedback from the geoscience communication community.
Modern seismotectonic studies are aimed at obtaining a self-consistent explanation of fault zone heterogeneity, the rupture process, recurrence times and rupture mode of large earthquake sequences. In subduction regions large earthquakes are often characterized by very long source zones and complex long-term postseismic processes following the coseismic release of accumulated elastic stresses. A set of mechanical models was proposed to describe the generation of strongest earthquakes based on the idea of the synchronous failure of several adjacent asperities. In this study we propose a model which is based on verified numerical schemes, which allows us to quantitatively characterize the process of generation of strong earthquakes. The model takes into account the fault-block structure of the continental margin and combined the ideas of a possible synchronous destruction of several adjacent asperities, mutual sliding along a fault plane with a variable coefficient of friction and subsequent healing of medium defects under high pressure conditions. The applicability of the proposed model is shown by the example of the recent seismic history of the Kuril subduction zone. Kuril island arc is one of the most tectonically active regions of the world due to very high plate convergence rate. Heterogeneities in the mechanical coupling of the interplate interface in this region lead to the formation of the block structure of the continental margin, which is confirmed by various geological and seismological studies. GPS observations recorded at different stages of seismic cycle related to the 2006--2007 Simushir earthquakes allow us to model geodynamic processes of slow strain accumulation and its rapid release during the earthquake and the subsequent posteseismic process. We use parameters describing the regional tectonic structure and rheology obtained from the inversion of geodetic data to construct a 2D model of generation of large earthquakes in central Kurils. Analysis of paleoseismic data on dates and rupture characteristics of previous major earthquakes shows a good agreement between the modeled and observed seismic cycle features. The predicted horizontal displacements of the seismogenic block at the coseismic stage are consistent with satellite geodetic data recorded during the 2006 Simushir earthquake. The proposed model provides new insights into the geodynamic processes controlling the occurrence of strong subduction earthquakes.