Seismology / Geophysics


Assistant Professor of Geophysics

Cecil & Ida Green Career Development Chair

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science (EAPS)

Address :
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA, 01239, USA
Phone: 617 324 - 7279

About Me

I am Assistant Professor of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My research focuses on understanding the diversity of earthquakes and the associated ground motions expected on the surface of the Earth.

I received my PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego working with Peter Shearer and Frank Vernon on scaling properties of earthquakes using state-of-the-art signal processing on some of the largest datasets at the time. I was a Thompson Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University working on seismic tomography and ground motion predictions using the ambient seismic field. Prior to my appointment at MIT, I was a faculty member and head of the new Geosciences program at Universidad de los Andes and a Visiting profesor at IPGP in 2012

My main interest is to use seismic records to understand the earthquake source, the interior of the Earth and how both affect the ground motions that we feel on the Earth's surface. Seismological observations are affected by the internal structure of the Earth, for example amplification of seismic waves in sedimentary basins. The nature of the earthquake source has also a significant impact on ground motions, and I am interested in a better understanding of earthquake ruptures, i.e., are large earthquakes different from the more common small ones?

Current research project can be found  here.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

2007 Ph.D. (Earth Sciences) UC San Diego 
2004 M. Sc. (Earth Sciences) UC San Diego 
2002 B.S. (Geology) Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Professional Experience 
2013 - Present Assistant Professor - MIT
2009 - 2013 Assistant Professor - Universidad de los Andes
2007 - 2008 Thompson Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University 
2002 - 2007 Graduate Student Researcher UC San Diego

2010 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award (video)
2011 Editors Citation for Excellence in Refereeing, JGR-Solid Earth, AGU


  • Poli, P., G. A. Prieto, E. Rivera, S. Ruiz (2016). Earthquakes initiation and thermal shear instability in the Hindu‐Kush intermediate‐depth nest. Geophys. Res. Lett. , 43, 1537–1542.
  • Poli, P. G. A. Prieto, C.Q. Yu, M. Florez, H. Agurto-Detzel, T.D. Mikesell, G. Chen, V. Dionicio, P. Pedraza (2016). Complex rupture of the M6. 3 2015 March 10 Bucaramanga earthquake: evidence of strong weakening process. Geophys. J. Int. 205(2), 988-994.
  • Syracuse, E. M., Maceira, M., Prieto, G.A., Zhang, H., & Ammon, C. J. (2016). Multiple plates subducting beneath Colombia, as illuminated by seismicity and velocity from the joint inversion of seismic and gravity data. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 444, 139-144.
  • Chiarabba, C., P De Gori, C Faccenna, F Speranza, D Seccia, V Dionicio, G. A. Prieto (2015). Subduction system and flat slab beneath the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. , 16.
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