Yaron Finzi Ph.D
Geology – Earth Sciences
Geology has a vast impact on society! My research addresses both geologic risks and benefits to mankind.
In the field of seismic hazard, I focus on analysis of Precariously Balanced Rocks (PBR) and the information they yield regarding regional fault activity and the magnitude of past earthquakes. I also modeled dynamic rupture propagation and stress transfer along complex fault systems. My seismic risk studies range from community preparedness and resilience to evaluation of local damage and cost of scenario events. High-resolution mapping of risk and preparedness were used to inform local authorities and improve emergency plans.
In the field of geomorphology and geologic risks, I have formed a GIS based regional model of cliff retreat in the Negev, Israel. The model accounts for various structural properties and runoff-basin analysis, and it may serve as a basic input for cliff stability evaluations.
In the emerging fields of geodiversity, geosystem-services, geoheritage and geo-ethics, I have examined the various interactions between local communities, national authorities and the unique and extraordinary landscape of the Negev Craterland, Israel. My research has motivated me to develop and oversee many outreach programs and collaborations with local stakeholders, and to lead a community effort to establish the Craterland Geopark in the Negev desert.
1. Stability analysis of fragile rock pillars and insights on fault activity
Rock pillars and precariously balanced rocks in the Negev, Israel, are used to re-evaluate the maximum seismic ground shaking that could have occurred during their life-span. We documented dozens of fragile geologic features which formed thousands of years ago and have withstood many regional earthquakes. Extensive fieldwork and analysis provided new constraints on the long-term seismic activity of several faults in the Negev and along the southern Dead Sea Transform. Slender rock pillars were shown to have natural frequencies within the range of seismic waves, making them very sensitive to resonance motion induced by large distant earthquakes. Expanding our study area can help resolve fundamental knowledge gaps regarding the magnitude of ancient earthquakes, and can improve regional and site-specific seismic hazard analyses in Israel and Jordan.
Latest publication: Finzi et al., 2020; https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JB019269
2. Mapping local seismic risk and preparedness to improve community resilience and emergency planning
In my work to improve resilience and local emergency plans in remote communities, my colleagues and I developed an online risk and preparedness assessment tool that promotes public engagement and enables mapping of resilience at the neighborhood scale. Accounting for spatial and temporal stressors, the analysis tool helps emergency authorities to identify potential challenges in emergency response and recovery.
3. Geodiversity, geosystem services and geo-ethical issues in the Negev Craterland Geopark
The geologic heritage and geosites of the erosional craters of the Craterland were described and explained. A scenic evaluation procedure was developed assess the cultural services of geology-dominant regions and was used to compare craters from all over the world. Ongoing research is focused on geopark development strategies, geosystem-services in the Negev Craterland which is a desert dominated by geological phenomena and the Ethical dilemmas of nature conservation. Within the context of geopark establishment in a remote desert community, I am examining the perceived value of cultural services and knowledge services and the balance between the needs of local communities and national nature conservation policies. As head of both the local research institute and the geopark initiative, I develop and oversee many outreach programs of outdoor education, community engagement, recreation and tourism.
Main publication: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12371-018-0335-7
4. Assessment of economic loss due to plausible tsunami scenarios in Eilat and Aqaba
Using detailed mapping of inundation associated with tsunami scenarios, and accounting for development and land use along the coast of the Aqaba Gulf, we estimate immediate damage and long-term economic loss to select sites in Israel and Jordan.
5. Cliff retreat rates and stability analysis –
A regional cliff retreat model is being developed and being improved to include structural, geomorphic and basin properties to account for the effect of runoff over mesa-like cliffs. The original model we built utilizes DEM and spatial geologic data to calculate retreat rate based on the width and inclination of the cliff forming layer and the scarp-talus geometrical relations (i.e. exposure vs burial of cliff base by talus). The regional approach enables multiple calibrations to be considered and to perform retreat rate analysis of numerous cliffs for which direct retreat rate indicators are lacking. Local application of the model revealed significant retreat rate variations along major cliffs in the Negev, Israel. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169555X16305815
6. Dynamic Stress Interactions at Material Heterogeneities
Dynamic rupture simulations incorporating material heterogeneities within the path of propagating stress waves are used to study the processes that enhance stresses to a point that could promote triggered seismicity. This has a direct effect on seismic hazard analysis in populated regions near fault systems where a small event triggered within a metropolitan area may cause more damage than a stronger distant event (e.g. the Christchurch earthquake of 2011). Preliminary results indicate that stress waves may be refracted and focused/dispersed when travelling through a material heterogeneity and that material interfaces excited by dynamic stress waves enhance local stress (see Figure).
- Finzi, Y. et al., 2020. Stability analysis of fragile rock pillars and insights on fault activity in the Negev, Israel. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JB019269.
- Finzi, Y. et al., Incorporating the effect of runoff in a regional cliff retreat model of the Makhteshim Country. Negev, Dead Sea and Arava Studies, 12(1), 22-31. [in Hebrew]
- Finzi, Y. et al., Developing a personal seismic-risk and readiness self-evaluation tool for activating citizens and improving communal resilience. Negev, Dead Sea and Arava Studies, 11(2), pp.24-34. [in Hebrew]
- Finzi, Y. et al., 2018. Extraordinary Geodiversity and Geoheritage Value of Erosional Craters of the Negev Craterland. Geoheritage, pp.1-22.
- Finzi, Y. et al., Tsunami in the Gulf of Eilat –initial damage evaluations at selected sites along the coast. Negev, Dead Sea and Arava Studies, 9(1), pp.23-32. [in Hebrew]
- Finzi, Y. and Harlev, N., 2016. A regional approach for modeling cliff retreat rate: The Makhteshim Country, Israel. Geomorphology, 271, pp.65-73.Link to the article
- Finzi, Y., and I. Ryvkin, 2016, The Erosional Crater (Makhtesh) – a Rare but Diverse Phenomenon, Dead Sea and Arava Studies.
- Langer, S., Finzi, Y. and Olsen-Kettle, L.M., 2015. Dynamic triggering of earthquakes is promoted by crustal heterogeneities and bimaterial faults. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 238, pp.34-41.
- Mohajeri A., Finzi Y., Muhlhaus, H. and Rosenbaum G., 2013, Melt and shear interactions in the lithosphere: Theory and numerical analysis of pure-shear extension, Journal of Geophysical Research.
- Langer S., Weatherley D., Olsen-Kettle L., and Finzi Y., 2013, Stress Heterogeneities in Earthquake Rupture Experiments with Material Contrasts, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 61, 3. 742-761/DOI: 10.1016/j.jmps.2012.11.002.
- Finzi Y., and Langer S., 2012, Predicting Rupture Arrests, Rupture Jumps and Cascading Earthquakes, Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1029/2012JB009438.
- Finzi Y., and Langer S., 2012, Damage in Step-overs May Enable Large Cascading Earthquakes, Geophysical Research Letters, 117, B12303, doi:10.1029/2012JB009544.
- Finzi, Y., H. Muhlhaus, L. Gross, and A. Amirbekyan., 2012, Shear band formation in numerical simulations applying a continuum damage rheology model, Pure and Applied Geophysics, pp. 1-13.
- Finzi Y., Hearn E., Lyakhovsky V., and Gross L., 2011, Fault-zone healing effectiveness and the structural evolution of strike-slip fault systems. Geophys. J. Int., 186, 963–970.
- Mohajeri A., Muhlhaus H, Finzi Y, and L. Gross, 2011, Numerical Investigation of Melt Segregation Using FEM Coding Environment Escript, Procedia Computer Science, Volume 4, pp 1563-1571.
- Finzi Y., Hearn E., Ben-Zion Y. and Lyakhovsky V., 2009, Structural properties and deformation patterns of evolving strike-slip faults: Numerical simulations incorporating damage rheology. Pure and Applied Geophysics, vol. 166, 10, 1537-1573.