The 2022 Beno Gutenberg Medal is awarded to Yehuda Ben-Zion for outstanding contributions to earthquake seismology, particularly the understanding of the dynamics of earthquake rupture and earthquake fault systems.
Yehuda Ben-Zion is an outstanding seismologist who has made significant contributions in broad areas of earthquake seismology. His main research field is understanding the dynamics of earthquake rupture and fault systems; as such his research has provided fundamental and novel insights into rupture dynamics, statistical properties of seismicity, physics of friction and damage, and quantification of fault-zone properties and imaging of the structure of the brittle crust. His earlier work opened the doors to the study of earthquake-cycle simulations and paved the way to a range of studies in which tectonic loading, fault friction, fault failure are combined to compute the cyclic loading and unloading of faults over thousands of earthquake cycles. Ben-Zion combines deep physical and geological understanding with strong mathematical and statistical skills, and combines field and lab observations to understand the earthquake system. Among his many contributions is the study on both fault-zone guided waves and fault-zone head waves to examine the width and connectivity of fault damage zones at depth. Another example is his work that explores the dynamics and predictive value of bi-material effects on the directivity of earthquake rupture propagation. He has studied and modeled fault-zone architecture in great detail in several locations (i.e., Southern California, Turkey). These findings are now integrated into advanced earthquake-cycle simulations in the earthquake science community. Ben-Zion also worked on understanding earthquake rupture for individual events, including seismic radiation and the resulting shaking, making the connection to seismic hazard. In that sense, his interest and past research cover the entire spectrum of earthquake system science. Ben-Zion has been involved in many productive projects with U.S. and European seismologists and is currently the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center. He has served the community in many ways, as journal editor and editor of several important collections of research papers, as well as organizer of high-profile conferences and workshops. He is an outstanding mentor for students, many of whom have become research leaders in their own right.