Staff Spotlight: Natasha Kozyreva
November 26, 2019

Beth Grassi

Natasha Kozyreva (or Natasha K. as her colleagues call her) came to Fairbanks in 2005. The major M7.9 Denali Fault Earthquake in 2002 with its numerous aftershocks brought her to the Alaska Earthquake Center of the UAF Geophysical Institute. Natasha’s background and 30 years of experience in seismology outside of Alaska led her to be invited as a visiting scholar at the center. A few months later she joined the staff.

As a lead seismic data analyst for the Alaska Earthquake Center, Natasha K. analyzes the “wiggly lines” (we call them waveforms) that come from about 500 seismometers installed across the state. She examines each arrival and refines the location and magnitude of every earthquake before cataloging it in the official database. “Our auto system for detecting earthquakes works very well, but we need to manually verify all the parameters for each earthquake.”

The Earthquake Center seismologists take turns being on call 24/7 for a week at a time. “I love the challenge of being on duty,” Natasha says. She was the on-call seismologist when the M7.1 earthquake shook Anchorage on November 30, 2018. “I was home at my desk already working. It was dark outside, an ordinary winter morning in Fairbanks, and suddenly everything around me came into motion. I knew it was a major event and I had to respond to it as soon as possible.” All of her years of training and experience came into play: in under six minutes she verified the location and depth of the earthquake’s origin. The US Geological Survey soon called confirming the official magnitude. That initial information was precious. “A situation like that requires good reactions, discipline, and the ability to know what to do to respond to a major earthquake,'' she said.

Due to the severity of the earthquake, the Alaska Earthquake Center initiated our emergency incident response protocol. For the next several days, Natasha K. was still on duty and processed aftershocks coming in every minute. Her colleagues were busy analyzing the flood of seismic data and releasing the official information to the public. “It was great team work, with everyone doing their part,” Natasha recalls.