Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Anne Sheehan

Professor of Geological Sciences

Headshot of Anne Sheehan
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991
  • B.S., University of Kansas, 1984
Office Location

Research Interests

I am a professor in Geological Sciences and CIRES at the University of Colorado Boulder. My research group addresses problems in earthquake seismology, tsunami studies, active tectonics, and geophysical imaging of the subsurface. Research topics include deep structure and tectonics of mountain regions including the Rocky Mountains, Himalaya, and Southern Alps, subduction zone seismicity and structure, tsunami modeling using seafloor pressure measurements, tsunami forecasting with data assimilation, and studies of induced seismicity. Our work is field- and computer- based; we deploy seismometers, including ocean bottom seismometers, to record earthquakes and tsunamis as signals; we deploy geodetic and electromagnetic instruments, for tectonic studies and subsurface imaging complementary to seismology. The data sets that we collect are processed using modern algorithms, with significant emphasis on time series analysis, signal detection, and imaging technologies. Novel computational techniques include data assimilation, subspace detection, and interferometry.

Article about our recent paper on using ship-based GNSS in tsunami warnings

Current Research

Subduction zone studies: Sheehan is a PI on the Alaska Amphibious Array Community Seismic Experiment (AACSE) and the Hikurangi Ocean Bottom Investigation of Tremor and Slow Slip (HOBITSS) experiments. Both of these projects involved the deployment of ocean bottom seismic and pressure sensors to study subduction zone processes including slow slip, megathrust earthquakes, and tsunamis. Graduate students and postdocs on these projects have worked on seismicity, attenuation, and tomography.

Induced seismicity: Sheehan’s seismology group, in close collaboration with the hydrogeology group of Prof. Shemin Ge, also in the Department of Geological Sciences, and geodesist Prof. Kristy Tiampo (CIRES/ESOC/GEOL), has made numerous contributions in recent years to studies of human-induced seismicity. Sheehan’s group has an ongoing experiment in northeast Colorado and maintains a webpage with direct access to real time seismic data from throughout Colorado at

Continental crust and mantle imaging: Sheehan’s group made many early contributions to the use of converted seismic wave imaging and anisotropy studies of the continental lithosphere. Current method development includes coda wave autocorrelation interferometry, with the goal of better utilizing short-term but dense deployments of seismometer, with targets including crustal faults at depth.

Tsunami studies: A recent focus of the Sheehan group is in tsunami studies. This grew out of Sheehan’s involvement with ocean bottom seismic experiments, and the recognition that tsunami signals were well-recorded on the pressure sensors associated with such deployments. This has led to productive collaborations with international researchers and new development of in-house expertise.

Research Categories

Energy, Oceans, Solid Earth

Research Images

Honors and Awards

2009: Erasmus Haworth Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Kansas Department of Geology
2013: EarthScope Distinguished Lecturer
2014: College Scholar Award, University of Colorado College of Arts & Sciences
2016: New Zealand Geophysics Prize (L. Wallace lead, with 7 coauthors)
2019: New Zealand Geophysics Prize (E. Warren-Smith lead, with 9 coauthors)
2020: President, Seismology Section, American Geophysical Union
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About CECA

CECA connects and creates a supportive environment for graduate students and postdocs who come from various academic units to do research in CIRES.