Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Daniel Gittins


  • Ph.D. University of Oxford (2023)
  • M.EarthSci University of Oxford (2019)
Affiliated Department
Geological Sciences

Research Interests

I am a geophysicist and Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at CIRES. My research interests center around understanding shallow aseismic fault slip, predominantly bursts of aseismic creep known as creep events that occur along faults in Central and Southern California, Turkey and Pakistan. I use data from creepmeters and strainmeters to identify when and where creep events are occurring and try to determine which fault mechanical process is driving these events. 

Current Research

My current research involves processing creepmeter records from 36 creepmeters installed across Central and Southern California, Turkey and Pakistan, identifying creep events within these records and performing statistical analysis on the resulting creep event catalog.

Data from each of the 36 creepmeters is currently stored in a different file format, therefore, I am developing a standardized data pipeline in which creepmeter data is processed so that it is more widely accessible to the scientific community. This involves data reformatting and assigning the correct associated metadata to each creepmeter data file manually as previously this information is not stored together. 

Once initial processing is complete, I manually examine each creepmeter record to identify creep events within the records to produce the most complete catalog of creep events to date with the hope of being able to apply some of the statistical investigations used on earthquake catalogs to these aseismic events. 

Beyond data processing and manual picking, I am also currently investigating the rheological driving models behind creep events. To do this, I am comparing how well several previously proposed models for creep events can describe the observed deceleration of creep events following an initial burst of slip. In doing so, we hope that we will be able to determine the fault mechanical process creating these events to be able to compare them to other slow-fault phenomena and to understand the full spectrum of fault slip occurring on faults worldwide. 

Research Categories

Solid Earth

Visiting Fellow




Understanding the nucleation of aseismic creep events

Not all faults slip solely in earthquakes – some have measurable offsets which cannot be attributed to earthquakes thanks to a process called creep. Fault creep was first identified over 60 years ago, and since then, many different fault behaviors have been identified. A particularly interesting observation is that creeping faults do not accumulate slip uniformly in time but instead in bursts of slip known as creep events. Creep events are typically a few hours to days in duration, occur every few weeks to months and have displacements of a few millimetres. These bursts of slip have been observed to occur on faults in California (e.g., San Andreas, Hayward and Calaveras Faults) as well as the North Anatolian Fault, Turkey. Despite knowing about these creep events since the late 1950s, we still do not know what causes them to nucleate or how they relate to other slow earthquake processes. Dan will work with Roger Bilham to investigate active creeping faults in California and beyond, using and developing a variety of geodetic instruments to understand the nucleation of creep events and determine how their moment and duration scale with one another.


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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.