The team is part of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) organization, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
The earthquake and its aftershocks have led to several hundred casualties, tens of thousands homeless, and significant destruction. Based on the US Geological Survey, the main earthquake was caused by shallow thrust faulting on or near the plate boundary between the Nazca and South America plates where the Nazca subducts beneath the South America plate at 61 mm/yr. Subduction along the Ecuador Trench and the Peru-Chile Trench farther south, has led to uplift of the Andes mountains and has produced some of the largest earthquakes in the world, including the 1960 M9.5 earthquake in southern Chile the largest ever recorded event.
The GEER team will focus on documenting the geo-effects of the event, with special emphasis on soil-structure interaction and lifeline performance, as well as ground motions, liquefaction effects, and landslides. GEER members are interacting with top Ecuadorian government officials through their collaboration with the top Ecuadorian earthquake professionals.