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  • richardmitnick 9:13 am on December 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using sparse data to predict lab quakes", , , , , , Geophysics, , , Transfer learning: comparisons from the lab to the field   

    From DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (US) : “Using sparse data to predict lab quakes” 

    LANL bloc

    From DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (US)

    December 16, 2021

    Stick-slip events in the earth cause damage like this, but limited data from these relatively rare earthquakes makes them difficult to model with machine learning. Transfer learning may provide a path to understanding when such deep faults slip. Credit: Dreamstime.

    A machine-learning approach developed for sparse data reliably predicts fault slip in laboratory earthquakes and could be key to predicting fault slip and potentially earthquakes in the field. The research by a Los Alamos National Laboratory team builds on their previous success using data-driven approaches that worked for slow-slip events in earth but came up short on large-scale stick-slip faults that generate relatively little data—but big quakes.

    “The very long timescale between major earthquakes limits the data sets, since major faults may slip only once in 50 to 100 years or longer, meaning seismologists have had little opportunity to collect the vast amounts of observational data needed for machine learning,” said Paul Johnson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos and a co-author on a new paper in Nature Communications.

    To compensate for limited data, Johnson said, the team trained a convolutional neural network on the output of numerical simulations of laboratory quakes as well as on a small set of data from lab experiments. Then they were able to predict fault slips in the remaining unseen lab data.

    This research was the first application of transfer learning to numerical simulations for predicting fault slip in lab experiments, Johnson said, and no one has applied it to earth observations.

    With transfer learning, researchers can generalize from one model to another as a way of overcoming data sparsity. The approach allowed the Laboratory team to build on their earlier data-driven machine learning experiments successfully predicting slip in laboratory quakes and apply it to sparse data from the simulations. Specifically, in this case, transfer learning refers to training the neural network on one type of data—simulation output—and applying it to another—experimental data—with the additional step of training on a small subset of experimental data, as well.

    “Our aha moment came when I realized we can take this approach to earth,” Johnson said. “We can simulate a seismogenic fault in earth, then incorporate data from the actual fault during a portion of the slip cycle through the same kind of cross training.” The aim would be to predict fault movement in a seismogenic fault such as the San Andreas, where data is limited by infrequent earthquakes.

    The team first ran numerical simulations of the lab quakes. These simulations involve building a mathematical grid and plugging in values to simulate fault behavior, which are sometimes just good guesses.

    For this paper, the convolutional neural network comprised an encoder that boils down the output of the simulation to its key features, which are encoded in the model’s hidden, or latent space, between the encoder and decoder. Those features are the essence of the input data that can predict fault-slip behavior.

    The neural network decoded the simplified features to estimate the friction on the fault at any given time. In a further refinement of this method, the model’s latent space was additionally trained on a small slice of experimental data. Armed with this “cross-training,” the neural network predicted fault-slip events accurately when fed unseen data from a different experiment.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (US) mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL campus
    DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is managed by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: The University of California Texas A&M University (US), Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

  • richardmitnick 9:32 am on November 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Super-hot rock" geothermal power, "What Secrets Can The World's 1st Magma Observatory Discover 1 Mile Inside a Volcano?", , , , Geophysics, Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology-INGV, KMT: "Krafla Magma Testbed" project, Knowing where the magma is located is vital in order to be prepared for an eruption., , The KMT is the first magma observatory in the world., The possibility that the operation may trigger a volcanic eruption is something one would naturally worry about.,   

    From The Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology-INGV via Science Alert (US) : “What Secrets Can The World’s 1st Magma Observatory Discover 1 Mile Inside a Volcano?” 


    From The Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology INGV



    Science Alert (US)

    27 NOVEMBER 2021

    Krafla seen from Leirhnjúkur in Iceland. (Hansueli Krapf/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

    With its large crater lake of turquoise water, plumes of smoke and sulfurous bubbling of mud and gases, the Krafla volcano is one of Iceland’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.

    Here, in the country’s northeast, a team of international researchers is preparing to drill two kilometers (1.2 miles) into the heart of the volcano, a Jules Verne-like project aimed at creating the world’s first underground magma observatory.

    Launched in 2014 and with the first drilling due to start in 2024, the $100-million project involves scientists and engineers from 38 research institutes and companies in 11 countries, including the US, Britain, and France.

    The “Krafla Magma Testbed” (KMT) team hopes to drill into the volcano’s magma chamber. Unlike the lava spewed above ground, the molten rock beneath the surface remains a mystery.

    The KMT is the first magma observatory in the world, Paolo Papale, volcanologist at the Italian national institute for geophysics and volcanology INGV, tells Agence France Pressé.com(FR).

    “We have never observed underground magma, apart from fortuitous encounters while drilling” in volcanoes in Hawaii and Kenya, and at Krafla in 2009, he says.

    Scientists hope the project will lead to advances in basic science and so-called “super-hot rock” geothermal power.

    They also hope to further knowledge about volcano prediction and risks.

    “Knowing where the magma is located… is vital” in order to be prepared for an eruption. “Without that, we are nearly blind,” says Papale.

    Not so deep down

    Like many scientific breakthroughs, the magma observatory is the result of an unexpected discovery.

    In 2009, when engineers were expanding Krafla’s geothermal power plant, a bore drill hit a pocket of 900-degree-Celsius (1,650 Fahrenheit) magma by chance, at a depth of 2.1 kilometers.

    Smoke shot up from the borehole and lava flowed nine meters up the well, damaging the drilling material.

    But there was no eruption and no one was hurt.

    Volcanologists realized they were within reach of a magma pocket estimated to contain around 500 million cubic meters.

    Scientists were astonished to find magma this shallow – they had expected to be able to drill to a depth of 4.5 kilometers before that would occur.

    Studies have subsequently shown the magma had similar properties to that from a 1724 eruption, meaning that it was at least 300 years old.

    “This discovery has the potential to be a huge breakthrough in our capability to understand many different things,” ranging from the origin of the continents to volcano dynamics and geothermal systems, Papale enthuses.

    Technically challenging

    The chance find was also auspicious for Landsvirkjun, the national electricity agency that runs the site.

    That close to liquid magma, the rock reaches temperatures so extreme that the fluids are “supercritical”, a state in-between liquid and gas.

    The energy produced there is five to 10 times more powerful than in a conventional borehole.

    During the incident, the steam that rose to the surface was 450C, the highest volcano steam temperature ever recorded.

    Two supercritical wells would be enough to generate the plant’s 60-megawatt capacity currently served by 18 boreholes.

    Landsvirkjun hopes the KMT project will lead to “new technology to be able to drill deeper and to be able to harness this energy that we have not been able to do before,” the head of geothermal operations and resource management, Vordis Eiriksdottir, said.

    But drilling in such an extreme environment is technically challenging. The materials need to be able to resist corrosion caused by the super-hot steam.

    And the possibility that the operation may trigger a volcanic eruption is something “one would naturally worry about”, says John Eichelberger, a University of Alaska-Fairbanks (US) geophysicist and one of the founders of the KMT project.

    But, he says, “this is poking an elephant with a needle.”

    “In total, a dozen holes have hit magma at three different places (in the world) and nothing bad happened.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology INGV is a research institute for geophysics and volcanology in Italy.

    INGV is funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. Its main responsibilities within the Italian civil protection system are the maintenance and monitoring of the national networks for seismic and volcanic phenomena, together with outreach and educational activities for the Italian population. The institute employs around 2000 people distributed between the headquarters in Rome and the other sections in Milan, Bologna, Pisa, Naples, Catania and Palermo.

    INGV is amongst the top 20 research institutions in terms of scientific publications production. It participates and coordinates several EU research projects and organizes international scientific meetings in collaboration with other institutions.

  • richardmitnick 11:10 am on November 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Seismic Shockwave Pattern May Be Redirecting Earthquake Damage", , , , Geophysics,   

    From The University of Texas-Austin (US) : “Seismic Shockwave Pattern May Be Redirecting Earthquake Damage” 

    From The University of Texas-Austin (US)

    November 16, 2021

    Constantino Panagopulos
    University of Texas Institute for Geophysics

    Anton Caputo
    Jackson School of Geosciences

    A ruptured fault in Searles Valley, California, after the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes. A study of earthquakes led by The University of Texas at Austin found that seismic shockwaves are shaped by jagged faults and the debris wedged between them. Credit: Ben Brooks/USGS

    New research from The University of Texas at Austin could change the way scientists think about potential damage from earthquakes.

    The study examined data from one of the densest seismic arrays ever deployed and found that earthquakes emit their strongest seismic shockwaves in four opposing directions. The effect, which leaves a pattern resembling a four-leaf clover, has been known for decades but never measured in such vivid detail.

    Daniel Trugman, an earthquake geophysicist at the Department for Geological Sciences in the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, said that the study looked at only one type of seismic shaking caused by very small earthquakes in northern Oklahoma.

    “What’s important in these results is that close to the source we’re seeing a variation in ground motion, and that’s not accounted for in any sort of hazard model,” Trugman said. He added that efforts were already underway to see how the phenomena plays out in California’s big fault systems.

    The analysis was published in the September issue of Geophysical Research Letters and is based on measurements of two-dozen small earthquakes recorded by the LArge-n Seismic Survey in Oklahoma (LASSO), an array of 1,829 seismic sensors deployed for 28 days in 2016 to monitor a remote corner of the state measuring 15 by 20 miles.

    When earthquakes strike, they release a thunderclap of seismic energy at many frequencies, but the actual ground shaking people feel ranges from about 1 hertz to 20 hertz. The study found that low frequency energy — about 1 to 10 hertz — shot from the fault in four directions, but barely registered outside of the four-leaf clover pattern. This is important because buildings are more vulnerable to low frequency waves. The four-leaf clover pattern wasn’t found for higher frequency waves, which travelled at equal strength in all directions, like ripples in a pond.

    Co-author Victor Tsai, a geophysicist at Brown University (US), said that the reason the Earth shook unevenly at different frequencies might have something to do with the complex geometry of earthquake faults and the broken-up material packed between them.

    “What happens when you have an earthquake is that pieces of broken rock inside the fault zone start to move around like pinballs,” he said. The jostling pieces redirect the energy randomly but at lower frequencies, seismic waves simply bypass the rough geologic mess near the fault, travelling in a nice four-leaf clover pattern just as physics predicts.

    A weak, magnitude 2.03 earthquake measured at different seismic frequencies ranging from 2.50Hz (hertz) to 35Hz. The University of Texas at Austin-led study revealed that a tremor’s low frequency seismic waves travel in a four-leaf clover pattern; above about 15Hz however, the pattern breaks down and seismic waves travel in all directions. The finding could change how we think about potential earthquake damage. Credit: Daniel Trugman, Victor Tsai/American Geophysical Union (US).

    This means that on the surface, a person might feel the same shaking regardless of where they stood, but buildings — which are sensitive to low frequency waves — would feel the earthquake much more intensely within the lines of the four-leaf clover pattern.

    Geophysicists have long known about this pattern; it’s taught in seismology 101. But, until now, evidence of its effect has been sparse. That’s because over large distances seismic waves are refracted regardless of frequency, smoothing out their differences and making earthquakes seem the same in all directions.

    Near an earthquake’s source, however, the pattern should be distinct. That’s where the LASSO array came in. Its closely packed sensors recorded earthquakes while they were unfolding, gathering measurements from hundreds of locations in northern Oklahoma that the U.S. Geological Survey, which funded and deployed the array, made freely available online.

    To test their idea about uneven shaking near faults, Trugman developed algorithms to filter the LASSO data. At low frequencies, each earthquake showed a four-leaf clover pattern of shaking; at higher frequencies there was no clear pattern, just as Tsai had predicted.

    Although the tremors recorded by the LASSO array were barely perceptible, the physics that drive them should be the same for stronger quakes. The scientists have already begun examining larger faults to see whether their age or shape can change the intensity of ground motion. Their goal is to build a catalogue of earthquake zones, showing which faults can generate the strongest and most dangerous types of seismic waves.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University Texas at Austin

    U Texas Austin campus

    The University of Texas-Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas and the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, the University of Texas was inducted into the Association of American Universities (US) in 1929, becoming only the third university in the American South to be elected. The institution has the nation’s seventh-largest single-campus enrollment, with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff.

    A Public Ivy, it is a major center for academic research. The university houses seven museums and seventeen libraries, including the LBJ Presidential Library and the Blanton Museum of Art, and operates various auxiliary research facilities, such as the J. J. Pickle Research Campus and the McDonald Observatory. As of November 2020, 13 Nobel Prize winners, four Pulitzer Prize winners, two Turing Award winners, two Fields medalists, two Wolf Prize winners, and two Abel prize winners have been affiliated with the school as alumni, faculty members or researchers. The university has also been affiliated with three Primetime Emmy Award winners, and has produced a total of 143 Olympic medalists.

    Student-athletes compete as the Texas Longhorns and are members of the Big 12 Conference. Its Longhorn Network is the only sports network featuring the college sports of a single university. The Longhorns have won four NCAA Division I National Football Championships, six NCAA Division I National Baseball Championships, thirteen NCAA Division I National Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, and has claimed more titles in men’s and women’s sports than any other school in the Big 12 since the league was founded in 1996.


    The first mention of a public university in Texas can be traced to the 1827 constitution for the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. Although Title 6, Article 217 of the Constitution promised to establish public education in the arts and sciences, no action was taken by the Mexican government. After Texas obtained its independence from Mexico in 1836, the Texas Congress adopted the Constitution of the Republic, which, under Section 5 of its General Provisions, stated “It shall be the duty of Congress, as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide, by law, a general system of education.”

    On April 18, 1838, “An Act to Establish the University of Texas” was referred to a special committee of the Texas Congress, but was not reported back for further action. On January 26, 1839, the Texas Congress agreed to set aside fifty leagues of land—approximately 288,000 acres (117,000 ha)—towards the establishment of a publicly funded university. In addition, 40 acres (16 ha) in the new capital of Austin were reserved and designated “College Hill”. (The term “Forty Acres” is colloquially used to refer to the University as a whole. The original 40 acres is the area from Guadalupe to Speedway and 21st Street to 24th Street.)

    In 1845, Texas was annexed into the United States. The state’s Constitution of 1845 failed to mention higher education. On February 11, 1858, the Seventh Texas Legislature approved O.B. 102, an act to establish the University of Texas, which set aside $100,000 in United States bonds toward construction of the state’s first publicly funded university (the $100,000 was an allocation from the $10 million the state received pursuant to the Compromise of 1850 and Texas’s relinquishing claims to lands outside its present boundaries). The legislature also designated land reserved for the encouragement of railroad construction toward the university’s endowment. On January 31, 1860, the state legislature, wanting to avoid raising taxes, passed an act authorizing the money set aside for the University of Texas to be used for frontier defense in west Texas to protect settlers from Indian attacks.

    Texas’s secession from the Union and the American Civil War delayed repayment of the borrowed monies. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, The University of Texas’s endowment was just over $16,000 in warrants and nothing substantive had been done to organize the university’s operations. This effort to establish a University was again mandated by Article 7, Section 10 of the Texas Constitution of 1876 which directed the legislature to “establish, organize and provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a university of the first class, to be located by a vote of the people of this State, and styled “The University of Texas”.

    Additionally, Article 7, Section 11 of the 1876 Constitution established the Permanent University Fund, a sovereign wealth fund managed by the Board of Regents of the University of Texas and dedicated to the maintenance of the university. Because some state legislators perceived an extravagance in the construction of academic buildings of other universities, Article 7, Section 14 of the Constitution expressly prohibited the legislature from using the state’s general revenue to fund construction of university buildings. Funds for constructing university buildings had to come from the university’s endowment or from private gifts to the university, but the university’s operating expenses could come from the state’s general revenues.

    The 1876 Constitution also revoked the endowment of the railroad lands of the Act of 1858, but dedicated 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha) of land, along with other property appropriated for the university, to the Permanent University Fund. This was greatly to the detriment of the university as the lands the Constitution of 1876 granted the university represented less than 5% of the value of the lands granted to the university under the Act of 1858 (the lands close to the railroads were quite valuable, while the lands granted the university were in far west Texas, distant from sources of transportation and water). The more valuable lands reverted to the fund to support general education in the state (the Special School Fund).

    On April 10, 1883, the legislature supplemented the Permanent University Fund with another 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha) of land in west Texas granted to the Texas and Pacific Railroad but returned to the state as seemingly too worthless to even survey. The legislature additionally appropriated $256,272.57 to repay the funds taken from the university in 1860 to pay for frontier defense and for transfers to the state’s General Fund in 1861 and 1862. The 1883 grant of land increased the land in the Permanent University Fund to almost 2.2 million acres. Under the Act of 1858, the university was entitled to just over 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land for every mile of railroad built in the state. Had the 1876 Constitution not revoked the original 1858 grant of land, by 1883, the university lands would have totaled 3.2 million acres, so the 1883 grant was to restore lands taken from the university by the 1876 Constitution, not an act of munificence.

    On March 30, 1881, the legislature set forth the university’s structure and organization and called for an election to establish its location. By popular election on September 6, 1881, Austin (with 30,913 votes) was chosen as the site. Galveston, having come in second in the election (with 20,741 votes), was designated the location of the medical department (Houston was third with 12,586 votes). On November 17, 1882, on the original “College Hill,” an official ceremony commemorated the laying of the cornerstone of the Old Main building. University President Ashbel Smith, presiding over the ceremony, prophetically proclaimed “Texas holds embedded in its earth rocks and minerals which now lie idle because unknown, resources of incalculable industrial utility, of wealth and power. Smite the earth, smite the rocks with the rod of knowledge and fountains of unstinted wealth will gush forth.” The University of Texas officially opened its doors on September 15, 1883.

    Expansion and growth

    In 1890, George Washington Brackenridge donated $18,000 for the construction of a three-story brick mess hall known as Brackenridge Hall (affectionately known as “B.Hall”), one of the university’s most storied buildings and one that played an important place in university life until its demolition in 1952.

    The old Victorian-Gothic Main Building served as the central point of the campus’s 40-acre (16 ha) site, and was used for nearly all purposes. But by the 1930s, discussions arose about the need for new library space, and the Main Building was razed in 1934 over the objections of many students and faculty. The modern-day tower and Main Building were constructed in its place.

    In 1910, George Washington Brackenridge again displayed his philanthropy, this time donating 500 acres (200 ha) on the Colorado River to the university. A vote by the regents to move the campus to the donated land was met with outrage, and the land has only been used for auxiliary purposes such as graduate student housing. Part of the tract was sold in the late-1990s for luxury housing, and there are controversial proposals to sell the remainder of the tract. The Brackenridge Field Laboratory was established on 82 acres (33 ha) of the land in 1967.

    In 1916, Gov. James E. Ferguson became involved in a serious quarrel with the University of Texas. The controversy grew out of the board of regents’ refusal to remove certain faculty members whom the governor found objectionable. When Ferguson found he could not have his way, he vetoed practically the entire appropriation for the university. Without sufficient funding, the university would have been forced to close its doors. In the middle of the controversy, Ferguson’s critics brought to light a number of irregularities on the part of the governor. Eventually, the Texas House of Representatives prepared 21 charges against Ferguson, and the Senate convicted him on 10 of them, including misapplication of public funds and receiving $156,000 from an unnamed source. The Texas Senate removed Ferguson as governor and declared him ineligible to hold office.

    In 1921, the legislature appropriated $1.35 million for the purchase of land next to the main campus. However, expansion was hampered by the restriction against using state revenues to fund construction of university buildings as set forth in Article 7, Section 14 of the Constitution. With the completion of Santa Rita No. 1 well and the discovery of oil on university-owned lands in 1923, the university added significantly to its Permanent University Fund. The additional income from Permanent University Fund investments allowed for bond issues in 1931 and 1947, which allowed the legislature to address funding for the university along with the Agricultural and Mechanical College (now known as Texas A&M University). With sufficient funds to finance construction on both campuses, on April 8, 1931, the Forty Second Legislature passed H.B. 368. which dedicated the Agricultural and Mechanical College a 1/3 interest in the Available University Fund, the annual income from Permanent University Fund investments.

    The University of Texas was inducted into The Association of American Universities (US) in 1929. During World War II, the University of Texas was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

    In 1950, following Sweatt v. Painter, the University of Texas was the first major university in the South to accept an African-American student. John S. Chase went on to become the first licensed African-American architect in Texas.

    In the fall of 1956, the first black students entered the university’s undergraduate class. Black students were permitted to live in campus dorms, but were barred from campus cafeterias. The University of Texas integrated its facilities and desegregated its dorms in 1965. UT, which had had an open admissions policy, adopted standardized testing for admissions in the mid-1950s at least in part as a conscious strategy to minimize the number of Black undergraduates, given that they were no longer able to simply bar their entry after the Brown decision.

    Following growth in enrollment after World War II, the university unveiled an ambitious master plan in 1960 designed for “10 years of growth” that was intended to “boost the University of Texas into the ranks of the top state universities in the nation.” In 1965, the Texas Legislature granted the university Board of Regents to use eminent domain to purchase additional properties surrounding the original 40 acres (160,000 m^2). The university began buying parcels of land to the north, south, and east of the existing campus, particularly in the Blackland neighborhood to the east and the Brackenridge tract to the southeast, in hopes of using the land to relocate the university’s intramural fields, baseball field, tennis courts, and parking lots.

    On March 6, 1967, the Sixtieth Texas Legislature changed the university’s official name from “The University of Texas” to “The University of Texas at Austin” to reflect the growth of the University of Texas System.

    Recent history

    The first presidential library on a university campus was dedicated on May 22, 1971, with former President Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson and then-President Richard Nixon in attendance. Constructed on the eastern side of the main campus, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

    A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. was unveiled on campus in 1999 and subsequently vandalized. By 2004, John Butler, a professor at the McCombs School of Business suggested moving it to Morehouse College, a historically black college, “a place where he is loved”.

    The University of Texas at Austin has experienced a wave of new construction recently with several significant buildings. On April 30, 2006, the school opened the Blanton Museum of Art. In August 2008, the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center opened, with the hotel and conference center forming part of a new gateway to the university. Also in 2008, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium was expanded to a seating capacity of 100,119, making it the largest stadium (by capacity) in the state of Texas at the time.

    On January 19, 2011, the university announced the creation of a 24-hour television network in partnership with ESPN, dubbed the Longhorn Network. ESPN agreed to pay a $300 million guaranteed rights fee over 20 years to the university and to IMG College, the school’s multimedia rights partner. The network covers the university’s intercollegiate athletics, music, cultural arts, and academics programs. The channel first aired in September 2011.

  • richardmitnick 1:22 pm on November 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "When Kilauea Erupted a New Volcanic Playbook Was Written", , , Geophysics, Halema‘uma‘u, Mauna Loa Kilauea’s colossal neighbor, , The powers that be recognized that drones “really add a fundamental piece to the story” for volcano monitoring.,   

    From The New York Times : “When Kilauea Erupted a New Volcanic Playbook Was Written” 

    From The New York Times

    Nov. 9, 2021
    Robin George Andrews

    An ash plume rising from the Halema‘uma‘u crater on May 21, 2018, captured by a drone.CreditCredit…Angie Diefenbach/The Geological Survey (US)

    Back in the summer of 2018, Wendy Stovall stood and stared into the heart of an inferno.

    Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano had been continuously erupting in one form or another since 1983.

    Hawaii Volcano Eruption 2018: Credit: Live Science.

    But from May to August, the volcano produced its magnum opus, unleashing 320,000 Olympic-size swimming pools’ worth of molten rock from its eastern flank.

    Dr. Stovall, the deputy scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, recalls moments of being awe-struck by the eruption’s incandescence: lava fountains roaring like jet engines, painting the inky blue sky in crimson hues. But these briefly exhilarating moments were overwhelmed by sadness. The people of Hawaii would suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damage. The lava bulldozed around 700 homes. Thousands of lives were upended. Even the headquarters of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory itself, sitting atop the volcano, was torn apart by earthquakes early in the crisis.

    Like many volcanologists who were there during the eruption, Dr. Stovall is still processing the trauma she witnessed. Sadness is not quite the right word to describe what she feels, she said: “Maybe it’s an emotion that I don’t even have a word for.”

    But not only trauma has resulted from the crisis: It has also produced something of a sea change in the way scientists and their emergency services partners are able to respond to volcanic emergencies.

    During Kilauea’s devastating outburst, responders found novel ways to deploy drones and used social media to help those in the lava’s path. They also achieved more ineffable insights into how to keep cool in the face of hot lava. And this pandemonium of pedagogical experiences will prove valuable in times to come. The United States is home to 161 active or potentially active volcanoes — approximately 10 percent of the world’s total. When — not if — a Kilauean-esque outburst or something more explosive takes place near an American city, scientists and emergency responders will be better prepared than ever to confront and counter that volcanic conflagration.

    A Patchwork of Fire

    Mount Rainier seen from Seattle.The volcano is known for making concrete-like slurries called lahars, in which freshly erupted ash mixes with snow or rainwater and gushes downslope.Credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times.

    In volcano preparedness, knowing where the next socially disruptive eruption may take place is half the battle.

    Not all of America’s active volcanoes are equally hazardous. Many in Alaska are situated on extremely remote islands. The Yellowstone supervolcano may sound frightening, but this cauldron does not deserve to be a boogeyman. “The odds of a supereruption happening are infinitesimally small,” said Emilie Hooft, a geophysicist at The University of Oregon (US).

    California is home to at least seven potentially active volcanoes. Although they are “mostly where the people aren’t, a lot of California’s infrastructure crosses these volcanic zones,” said Andy Calvert, the scientist-in-charge at the Geological Survey’s California Volcano Observatory. An eruption at any of them could destroy power lines, highways, waterways and natural gas pipelines.

    The volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest are not dissimilar to bombs lingering in the background of populous American ports, towns and cities. Some, like Mount St. Helens, are infamous for giant explosions and superheated, superfast exhalations of noxious gas and volcanic debris.

    Others, like Washington State’s Mount Rainier, are more insidious. The volcano is known for making concrete-like slurries called lahars, in which freshly erupted ash mixes with snow or rainwater and gushes downslope, consuming everything in its path. These lahars “are a huge and real hazard,” Dr. Hooft said. Populous settlements within or at the terminus of the volcano’s many valleys, including parts of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolis, are built on ancient lahar deposits — and as the geologist’s refrain goes, the past is the key to the present.

    Another major concern is America’s poorly understood volcanic fields: sprawling collections of cones, craters and fissures nestled between countless towns stretching from California to Washington State. Except for Mount St. Helens, said Dr. Stovall, “it is statistically more likely that an eruption will occur from any one of these volcanic fields than from one of the charismatic stratocones of the Cascades.”

    While constantly watching Kilauea, the eyes of The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (US) also remain fixed on Mauna Loa, Kilauea’s colossal neighbor.

    1984 Eruption of Mauna Loa – Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (National Park Service (US))

    It has not erupted since 1984 — a disquietingly long pause. But in recent years, Mauna Loa has been grumbling. Several of this titan’s lava flows have come agonizingly close to obliterating the city of Hilo in the past century, and although they have serendipitously stopped short, they may one day succeed.

    When Ken Hon, the scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, was asked if a future Mauna Loa eruption concerned him, he replied with a question of his own.

    “Are you wary of a tiger when it’s sleeping?” he said. “It’s a sleeping tiger in your yard, and there’s no cage, and you’re just kind of watching it.”

    A Kilauean Education

    Fortunately, the lessons learned from the 2018 eruption have strengthened the armor of America’s volcanic vanguard.

    Kilauea took not just the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory but the entire U.S. Geological Survey to school. During the 2018 crisis, staff from the Alaska, California, Cascades and Yellowstone observatories headed to Hawaii to assist, like white blood cells from throughout the body rushing to the site of a pathogen’s incursion. Despite some parts of America not seeing an eruption for over a century, this across-the-spectrum response allowed scientists from the Geological Survey to “keep the tools sharp,” Dr. Calvert said.

    Hawaii’s lava factories are now better understood. They may sometimes be the deliverers of destructive horrors, but “volcanic eruptions are this amazing opportunity for scientists to do basic research,” said Ken Rubin, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The eruption in 2018, revealed that “there’s a lot of ways this volcano can operate,” he said.

    Some key observations made during the 2018 crisis are likely to apply to countless other volcanoes, including those enigmatic volcanic fields on the West Coast. For instance, Kilauea stopped erupting despite retaining most of its magma. A change in the rhythm of its seismic soundtrack also revealed changes in the magma’s gloopiness, a key factor in an eruption’s explosive capacity. Monitoring such changes may help forecast how future eruptions will evolve, and how long they will continue once they start.

    Kilauea’s outburst also changed the way scientists communicate with the public.

    “It was the first big eruption we’ve had in the social media age,” said Tina Neal, director of the Geological Survey’s Volcano Science Center. During the eruption, her colleagues provided a constant stream of updates on Facebook and Twitter, debunking misconceptions and rumors. This proved to be one of the most effective ways of providing lifesaving advice to those fleeing the eruption.

    “I’ll admit that I was skeptical of spending too much time delivering information via social media,” said Ms. Neal, who was the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s scientist-in-charge during the 2018 eruption. She was concerned that in doing so she would mainly be catering to curious but unaffected parties further afield.

    But she said she was happy to be proved wrong — and added that she thinks the Geological Survey’s volcanologists now have an effective social media operation that can spring into action whenever a volcano starts twitching.

    Lava flowing from one of the Kilauea fissures in June 2018, observed via drone.Credit: Angie Diefenbach/U.S. Geological Survey.

    The 2018 crisis also kick-started a nationwide technological revolution. It had long seemed strange to Angie Diefenbach, a geologist at The Cascades Volcano Observatory (US), that management did not appear to see the value of using drones to study erupting volcanoes in the United States, particularly as academics both inside and outside the country had been doing just that for several years.

    Kilauea’s dramatic eruption was a paradigm-shifting moment. Ms. Diefenbach, who was already equipped with a pilot’s license, was sent to the effervescing volcano with a handful of keen colleagues and a small fleet of flying robots.

    The pilots had a steep learning curve. The drones frequently flitted over the incandescent fury emerging from fissure eight, one of the two dozen cracks in the volcano’s flank, to film the seemingly endless flow of lava and sniff the chasm’s noxious gases.

    “That fissure eight plume was intense, and the river of lava was extremely hot,” Ms. Diefenbach said. Every now and then, an upswell of heat would knock the levitating robots skyward by a couple hundred feet, threatening a loss of control that might plunge them into molten rock. Fortunately, they all survived to fly another day.

    Immediately, she said, the powers that be recognized that drones “really add a fundamental piece to the story” for volcano monitoring. Bird’s-eye views of lava flows allowed scientists to study the evolution of the eruption in real time. And communities in the path of the lava could be given advance warning; at one point, a man trapped in his home at night and surrounded by lava was led by a drone through the maze of molten rock to safety.

    Ms. Diefenbach, who works with uncrewed aircraft systems like drones for the Volcano Science Center, is now training more drone pilots across all five volcano observatories. While awaiting the next socially disruptive eruption, some of her drones are being used to study volcanoes that could one day reawaken, including inaccessible snowcapped peaks in Alaska.

    Meandering Paths Forward

    Sunrise over the lower East Rift Zone of the 2018 Kilauea eruption.Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, via Associated Press.

    This is not to say that the scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey have been “twiddling their thumbs waiting” for a ruinous eruption like Kilauea, Ms. Neal said.

    The agency’s staff are working constantly with their academic partners to improve their understanding of America’s fiery mountains. They are also continually learning from the way other countries respond to their own volcanic crises. The scientists regularly team up with emergency managers to conduct drills, including the annual evacuation exercises near Mount Rainier.

    But the path to volcanic enlightenment is not a straight line. Although all of America’s active volcanoes are monitored, some considered to be high risk are not adorned with sufficient sensors. This can be a result of budgetary constraints, the difficulty of instrumenting treacherous volcanoes and, in some cases, red tape preventing the placement of sensors in wilderness areas.

    “There are some volcanoes where we’re more at the starting line,” said Seth Moran, a seismologist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory, citing Washington’s Glacier Peak and Mount Baker.

    Climate change and California’s increasingly intense wildfires are also aggravating the situation. A newly installed ground deformation sensor on Mount Shasta, for example, was taken out by this summer’s furious Lava fire, Dr. Calvert said.

    Despite these setbacks, the Geological Survey continues to strengthen its monitoring efforts, with its network of instruments on several particularly hazardous volcanoes being upgraded and expanded. It also participates in tabletop exercises to test everyone’s mettle. One that took place over several days last November pitted scientists against a hypothetical eruption of Oregon’s Mount Hood.

    Like the Kilauean eruption, this virtual volcanic gauntlet served up an underappreciated reminder: The people responding to volcanic crises may have extraordinary skill sets, but they are not superhuman.

    “The general feeling afterwards was just of overwhelming exhaustion,” said Diana Roman, a geophysicist at The Carnegie Institution for Science (US) and one of those who ran the exercise. “And that was part of the point.”

    When it comes to America’s readiness for the next eruption, preparing scientists psychologically for the reality of a prolonged volcanic crisis is a necessity.

    In 2004, when Mount St. Helens began to cough and splutter in a concerning manner, Dr. Moran became wrapped up in a surfeit of tasks. “It was about week three when my wife brought our kids to say good night to me,” he said. “That was my indication that I was probably doing too much. I should at least be able to get home and say good night to my kids.”

    These experiences have taught Dr. Moran and his colleagues an invaluable lesson: “You can’t have people getting burned out right off the bat,” he said. Giving individuals clear roles ahead of time, and making their teams small and manageable, will hopefully prevent this sort of exhaustion in the future.

    Though it’s not only scientists who can get drained during lengthy volcanic eruptions. As the weariness over the pandemic is grimly demonstrating, “it’s hard to keep people’s attention on something for a long time,” said Brian Terbush, the program coordinator for earthquakes and volcanoes at Washington State’s Emergency Management Division. “They get really tired of it. I’m tired of it.”

    And protecting the public is considerably more difficult if people are not paying attention.

    Fires of the Future

    Halema‘uma‘u crater activity recorded Oct. 12, 2021.Credit: U.S. Geological Survey.

    The location, timing and effects of America’s next volcanic disaster remain unknown. Even after a significant eruption begins, forecasting its evolution will be difficult.

    “Even on the world’s best instrumented volcano,” said Dr. Hon, referring to Kilauea, “we still don’t really understand it that well.”

    And yet, despite having so many dangers and complications to contend with, no one died and thousands of lives were saved during the 2018 crisis.

    Those who were involved in the Kilauea response hope that the public will remember the role geoscientists played during the next volcanic emergency and see them as trustworthy protectors.

    Not everyone will. “We often get told that we’re lying, and we’re hiding things, because we’re the government,” said Dr. Stovall — an uncomfortable echo of the similarly unfounded charges of conspiracy that many have directed toward public health professionals during the pandemic.

    But the volcanologists and their peers say they will remain unwavering in their mission to decipher the country’s beguiling but occasionally menacing volcanoes.

    “We are doing our best,” Dr. Stovall said. “And we’re in it for the greater good.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 4:40 pm on October 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , A team of scientists has now measured the structure and properties of two superionic ice phases (ice XVIII and ice XX)., Geophysics, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (DE), Scientists have now further characterized the phase diagram of water at its extremes., The Carnegie Institution of Washington (US), The phase transition to a conducting liquid has interesting consequences for the open questions surrounding the magnetic field of Uranus and Neptune., The solid form of water comes in more than a dozen different—sometimes more- sometimes less crystalline—structures depending on the conditions of pressure and temperature in the environment., , They brought water to extremely high pressures and temperatures in a laser-heated diamond anvil cell., This work may also help to explain the unusual magnetic fields of the planets Uranus and Neptune which contain a lot of water.   

    From Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (DE) via phys.org: “Evidence of superionic ice provides new insights into the unusual magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune” 

    From Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (DE)



    October 14, 2021

    The magnetic field of Neptune, like that of the Earth, is not static but varies over time. Pictured is a snapshot from August 2004. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

    Not all ice is the same. The solid form of water comes in more than a dozen different—sometimes more- sometimes less crystalline—structures depending on the conditions of pressure and temperature in the environment. Superionic ice is a special crystalline form—half solid, half liquid—and electrically conductive. Its existence has been predicted on the basis of various models and has already been observed on several occasions under extreme laboratory conditions. However, the exact conditions at which superionic ices are stable remain controversial.

    A team of scientists led by Vitali Prakapenka from The University of Chicago (US), which also includes Sergey Lobanov from The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences [GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam](DE), has now measured the structure and properties of two superionic ice phases (ice XVIII and ice XX). They brought water to extremely high pressures and temperatures in a laser-heated diamond anvil cell. At the same time, the samples were examined with regard to structure and electrical conductivity. The results were published today in the renowned journal Nature Physics. They provide another piece of the puzzle in the spectrum of the manifestations of water. And they may also help to explain the unusual magnetic fields of the planets Uranus and Neptune which contain a lot of water.

    Hot ice?

    Ice is cold; at least type I ice from our freezer, snow or from a frozen lake. In planets or in laboratory high-pressure devices, there are different species of ice, type VII or VIII for example, which exist at several hundred or thousand degrees Celsius. However, this is only because of very high pressures of several tens of Gigapascal.

    Pressure and temperature span the space for the so-called phase diagram of a substance: Depending on these two parameters, the various manifestations of water and the transitions between solid, gaseous, liquid and hybrid states are recorded here—as they are predicted theoretically or have already been proven in experiments.

    Shown is a snapshot of the magnetic field of Uranus in January 2007. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

    Linking fundamental physics with geological questions

    The higher the pressure and temperature, the more difficult such experiments are. And so the phase diagram of water—with ice as its solid phase—still has quite a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the extreme ranges.

    “Water is actually a relatively simple chemical compound consisting of one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. Nevertheless, with its often unusual behavior, it is still not fully understood. In the case of water, the fundamental physical and geoscientific interests come together because water plays an important role inside many planets. Not only in terms of the formation of life and landscapes, but—in the case of the gaseous planets Uranus and Neptune—also for the formation of their unusual planetary magnetic fields,” says Sergey Lobanov, geophysicist at GFZ Potsdam.

    Figure illustrating how the experiments were performed, revealing two forms of superionic ice. Credit: Vitali Prakapenka, The University of Chicago (US).

    Unique conditions in the lab

    Sergey Lobanov is part of the team led by first author Vitali Prakapenka and Nicholas Holtgrewe, both from the University of Chicago, and Alexander Goncharov from The Carnegie Institution of Washington (US). They have now further characterized the phase diagram of water at its extremes. Using laser-heated diamond anvil cells—the size of a computer mouse—they have generated high pressures of up to 150 Gigapascal (about 1.5 million times atmospheric pressure) and temperatures of up to 6,500 Kelvin (about 6,227 degrees Celsius). In the sample chamber, which is only a few cubic millimeters in size, conditions then prevail that occur at the depth of several thousand kilometers inside Uranus or Neptune.

    The scientists used X-ray diffraction to observe how the crystal structure changes under these conditions. They carried out these experiments using the extremely bright synchrotron X-rays at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) of the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (US) at The University of Chicago (US). A second series of experiments at the Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (US) used optical spectroscopy to determine the electronic conductivity.

    The phase diagram shows the state of water (H2O) under very high pressure (X-axis) and temperature conditions (Y-axis). These conditions apply in the interior of the ice planets Uranus and Neptune (dark grey field), where states are reached in which the water becomes electrically conductive and is thus able to generate magnetic fields (red dotted area). For comparison: At the core-mantle boundary of the Earth at a depth of approx. 2900 kilometres, temperatures of between 3000-4000 Kelvin and pressures of around 135 gigapascals (GPa) are assumed. This pressure corresponds to almost 14 tonnes per square millimetre. Credit: S. Lobanov, GFZ.

    Structural changes in ice as it passes through phase space: Formation of superionic ice.

    The researchers first produced ice VII or X from water at room temperature by increasing the pressure to several tens of Gigapascal (see the phase diagram). And then, at constant pressure, they increased the temperature by heating it with laser light. In the process, they observed how the crystalline ice structure changed: First, the oxygen and hydrogen atoms moved a little around their fixed positions. Then only the oxygen remained fixed and formed its own cubic crystal lattice. As the temperature rose, the hydrogen ionized, i.e. gave up its only electron to the oxygen lattice. Its atomic nucleus—a positively charged proton—then whizzed through this solid, making it electrically conductive. In this way, a hybrid of solid and liquid is created: Superionic ice.

    Its existence was predicted on the basis of various models and has already been observed on several occasions under laboratory conditions. The scientists have now been able to synthesize and identify two superionic ice phases—ice XVIII and ice XX—and to delineate the pressure and temperature conditions of their stability. “Due to their distinct density and increased optical conductivity, we assign the observed structures to the theoretically predicted superionic ice phases,” explains Lobanov.

    Consequences for the explanation of the magnetic field of Uranus and Neptune

    In particular, the phase transition to a conducting liquid has interesting consequences for the open questions surrounding the magnetic field of Uranus and Neptune, which presumably consist of more than sixty percent water. Their magnetic field is unusual in that it does not run quasi parallel and symmetrically to the axis of rotation—as it does on Earth—but is skewed and off-center. Models of its formation therefore assume that it is not generated—as on Earth—by the motion of molten iron in the core, but by a conductive water-rich liquid in the outer third of Uranus or Neptune.

    “In the phase diagram, we can draw the pressure and temperature in the interiors of Uranus and Neptune. Here, the pressure can roughly be taken as a measure of the depth inside. Based on the refined phase boundaries we have measured, we see that about the upper third of both planets is liquid, but deeper interiors contain solid superionic ices. This confirms the predictions about the origin of the observed magnetic field,” Lobanov sums up.


    The geophysicist emphasizes that further investigations to better clarify the inner structure and the magnetic field of the two gas planets will be carried out at the GFZ. Here, in addition to the diamond anvil cells already in use, there is both the corresponding high-pressure laboratory and the highly sensitive spectroscopic measuring equipment. Lobanov set up the latter as part of his funding as head of the Helmholtz Young Investigators Group CLEAR to investigate the phenomena of the deep Earth with unconventional ultra-fast time-resolved spectroscopy techniques.

    See the full article here.


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    The Helmholtz Association (DE)

    The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers (DE) was created in 1995 to formalise existing relationships between several globally-renowned independent research centres. The Helmholtz Association distributes core funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to its, now, 19 autonomous research centers and evaluates their effectiveness against the highest international standards.

  • richardmitnick 7:54 pm on October 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Earth’s ‘solid’ inner core may contain both mushy and hard iron", Geophysics,   

    From University of Hawai’i-Manoa (US) : “Earth’s ‘solid’ inner core may contain both mushy and hard iron” 

    From University of Hawai’i-Manoa (US)

    October 5, 2021
    Marcie Grabowski

    Locations of earthquakes (red) and corresponding seismic stations (yellow pins). Credit: Butler and Tsuboi (2021).

    3,200 miles beneath Earth’s surface lies the inner core, a ball-shaped mass of mostly iron that is responsible for Earth’s magnetic field. In the 1950’s, researchers suggested the inner core was solid, in contrast to the liquid metal region surrounding it.

    New research [Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors] led by Rhett Butler, a geophysicist at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), suggests that Earth’s “solid” inner core is, in fact, endowed with a range of liquid, soft, and hard structures which vary across the top 150 miles of the inner core.

    No human, nor machine has been to this region. The depth, pressure and temperature make inner Earth inaccessible. So Butler, a researcher at SOEST’s Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, and co-author Seiji Tsuboi, research scientist at JAMSTEC – JAPAN AGENCY FOR MARINE-EARTH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY [国立研究開発法人海洋研究開発機構](JP), relied on the only means available to probe the innermost Earth—earthquake waves.

    “Illuminated by earthquakes in the crust and upper mantle, and observed by seismic observatories at Earth’s surface, seismology offers the only direct way to investigate the inner core and its processes,” said Butler.

    As seismic waves move through various layers of Earth, their speed changes and they may reflect or refract depending on the minerals, temperature and density of that layer.

    In order to infer features of the inner core, Butler and Tsuboi utilized data from seismometers directly opposite of the location where an earthquake was generated. Using Japan’s Earth Simulator supercomputer, they assessed five pairings to broadly cover the inner core region: Tonga–Algeria, Indonesia–Brazil, and three between Chile–China.

    “In stark contrast to the homogeneous, soft iron alloys considered in all Earth models of the inner core since the 1970’s, our models suggest there are adjacent regions of hard, soft, and liquid or mushy iron alloys in the top 150 miles of the inner core,” said Butler. “This puts new constraints upon the composition, thermal history, and evolution of Earth.

    The study of the inner core and discovery of its heterogeneous structure provide important new information about dynamics at the boundary between the inner and outer core, which impact the generation Earth’s magnetic field.

    “Knowledge of this boundary condition from seismology may enable better, predictive models of the geomagnetic field which shields and protects life on our planet,” said Butler.

    The researchers plan to model the inner core structure in finer detail using the Earth Simulator and compare how that structure compares with various characteristics of Earth’s geomagnetic field.

    See the full article here .


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    System Overview

    The University of Hawai‘I (US) includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the Hawaiian Islands. As the public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers opportunities as unique and diverse as our Island home.

    The 10 UH campuses and educational centers on six Hawaiian Islands provide unique opportunities for both learning and recreation.

    UH is the State’s leading engine for economic growth and diversification, stimulating the local economy with jobs, research and skilled workers.

    The University of Hawaiʻi system, formally the University of Hawaiʻi (US) is a public college and university system that confers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through three university campuses, seven community college campuses, an employment training center, three university centers, four education centers and various other research facilities distributed across six islands throughout the state of Hawaii in the United States. All schools of the University of Hawaiʻi system are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The U.H. system’s main administrative offices are located on the property of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu CDP.

    The University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa is the flagship institution of the University of Hawaiʻi system. It was founded as a land-grant college under the terms of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. Programs include Hawaiian/Pacific Studies, Astronomy, East Asian Languages and Literature, Asian Studies, Comparative Philosophy, Marine Science, Second Language Studies, along with Botany, Engineering, Ethnomusicology, Geophysics, Law, Business, Linguistics, Mathematics, and Medicine. The second-largest institution is the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo on the “Big Island” of Hawaiʻi, with over 3,000 students. The University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu in Kapolei primarily serves students who reside in Honolulu’s western and central suburban communities. The University of Hawaiʻi Community College system comprises four community colleges island campuses on O’ahu and one each on Maui, Kauaʻi, and Hawaiʻi. The schools were created to improve accessibility of courses to more Hawaiʻi residents and provide an affordable means of easing the transition from secondary school/high school to college for many students. University of Hawaiʻi education centers are located in more remote areas of the State and its several islands, supporting rural communities via distance education.

    Research facilities

    Center for Philippine Studies
    Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi
    East-West Center
    Haleakalā Observatory
    Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute
    Institute for Astronomy
    Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
    Institute of Marine Biology
    Lyon Arboretum
    Mauna Kea Observatory
    W. M. Keck Observatory
    Waikīkī Aquarium

    U Hawaii 2.2 meter telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawai’I (US)

    The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth.

    The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes near the summit of Maunakea on the island of Hawai’i feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrographs and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems.

  • richardmitnick 3:53 pm on June 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Some Forams Could Thrive with Climate Change Metabolism Study Finds", , , , Geophysics, , , Women in STEM-Joan Bernhard and Fatma Gomaa,   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US) : Women in STEM-Joan Bernhard and Fatma Gomaa “Some Forams Could Thrive with Climate Change Metabolism Study Finds” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US)

    May 27, 2021

    Media Relations Office
    (508) 289-3340

    Light micrograph of the benthic foraminifer Nonionella stella, which thrives in anoxic sulfidic sediments far below the euphotic zone. Individuals are ~225 microns in diameter. Image credit: J.M. Bernhard.

    With the expansion of oxygen-depleted waters in the oceans due to climate change, some species of foraminifera (forams, a type of protist or single-celled eukaryote) that thrive in those conditions could be big winners, biologically speaking.

    A new paper that examines two foram species found that they demonstrated great metabolic versatility to flourish in hypoxic and anoxic sediments where there is little or no dissolved oxygen, inferring that the forams’ contribution to the marine ecosystem will increase with the expansion of oxygen-depleted habitats.

    In addition, the paper found that the multiple metabolic strategies that these forams exhibit to adapt to low and no oxygen conditions are changing the classical view about the evolution and diversity of eukaryotes. That classical view hypothesizes that the rise of oxygen in Earth’s system led to the acquisition of oxygen-respiring mitochondria, the part of a cell that generates most of the chemical energy that powers a cell’s biochemical reactions. The forams in the study represent “typical” mitochondrial-bearing eukaryotes. However, these two forams respire nitrate and produce energy in the absence of oxygen, with one colonizing an anoxic environment, often with high levels of hydrogen sulfide, a chemical compound typically toxic to eukaryotes.

    “Benthic foraminifera represent truly successful microbial eukaryotes with diverse and sophisticated metabolic adaptive strategies” that scientists are just beginning to discover, the authors noted in the paper, Multiple integrated metabolic strategies allow foraminiferal protists to thrive in anoxic marine sediments appearing in Science Advances.

    This is important because scientists have studied forams extensively for interpreting past oceanographic and climate conditions. Scientists largely have assumed that forams evolved after oxygen was on the planet and likely require oxygen to survive. However, finding that forams can perform the processes described “throws a whole new wrench in interpretations of past environmental conditions on Earth, driven by the foram fossil record,” said co-author and project leader Joan Bernhard, senior scientist in the Geology and Geophysics Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

    Bernhard said that over the past several decades she has worked to establish that forams can live where there is little or no oxygen. “We never knew exactly why forams can live where there isn’t any oxygen until molecular methods got good enough that we could really start to ask some of these questions. This is our first paper that’s coming out with some of these insights,” she said. Bernhard added that with thousands of foram species living today, and with hundreds of thousands extinct, it is likely that this is “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of possibly discovering other metabolic strategies invoked by these forams.

    Specific insights from the paper pertain to two highly successful benthic foraminiferal species that inhabit hypoxic or anoxic sediments in the Santa Barbara Basin, a sort of natural laboratory off the coast of California for studying the impact of oxygen depletion in the ocean.

    Through gene expression analysis of the two species—Nonionella stella and Bolivina argentea—scientists found different successful metabolic adaptations that allowed the forams to succeed in oxygen-depleted marine sediments and identified candidate genes involved in anaerobic respiration and energy metabolism.

    The N. stella is a sort of kleptomaniac, utilizing a technique to steal chloroplasts—the structure in a cell where photosynthesis occurs—from a particular diatom genus. What makes this particularly interesting is that N. stella lives well below what is considered to be the zone where photosynthesis can happen. The authors noted that there has been discussion in the literature questioning the functionality of these kleptoplasts in the Santa Barbara Basin N. stella but the new results show that these kleptoplasts are firmly functional, although exact metabolic details remain elusive.

    In addition, the scientists found that the two foram species in the study use different metabolic pathways to incorporate ammonium into organic nitrogen in the form of glutamate, a metabolic strategy that was not previously known to be performed by these organisms.

    “The metabolic variety suggests that at least some species of this diverse protistan group will withstand severe deoxygenation and likely play major roles in oceans affected by climate change,” the authors wrote.

    The study “gives the scientific community a new direction for research,” said lead author Fatma Gomaa, who, at the time of the study, was a postdoctoral investigator at the Geology and Geophysics Department at WHOI. “We are now starting to learn that there are microeukaryotes living in habitats similar to those in Earth’s early history that are performing very interesting biological functions. Learning about these forams is very intriguing and will shed light on how early eukaryotes evolved.”

    See the full article here .


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    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US) is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.


    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

  • richardmitnick 1:57 pm on April 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Fiber Optic Cable Monitors Microseismicity in Antarctica", , Geophysics, , The movement and deformation of the ice under changing climate conditions.   

    From Seismological Society of America (US) : “Fiber Optic Cable Monitors Microseismicity in Antarctica” 

    From Seismological Society of America (US)

    23 April 2021

    At the Seismological Society of America’s 2021 Annual Meeting, researchers shared how they are using fiber optic cable to detect the small earthquakes that occur in ice in Antarctica.

    The results could be used to better understand the movement and deformation of the ice under changing climate conditions, as well as improve future monitoring of carbon capture and storage projects, said Anna Stork, a geophysicist at Silixa Ltd.

    Stork discussed how she and her colleagues are refining their methods of distributed acoustic sensing, or DAS, for microseismicity—earthquakes too small to be felt. DAS works by using the tiny internal flaws within an optical fiber as thousands of seismic sensors. An instrument at one end sends laser pulses down the cable and measures the “echo” of each pulse as it is reflected off the fiber’s internal flaws.

    Building a DAS system in Antarctica. | Michael Kendall.

    When the fiber is disturbed by earthquakes or icequakes, there are changes in the size, frequency and phase of laser light scattered back to the DAS receiver that can be used characterize the seismic event.

    Michael Kendall of the University of Oxford (UK) said the Antarctic research demonstrates how DAS can be used to monitor underground carbon capture and storage at other sites in the world. For instance, the layout of the Antarctic network offers a good example for how a similar network could be configured to best detect microseismicity that could be triggered by carbon storage.

    “Our work also demonstrates a method of using DAS fiber arrays to investigate microseismic earthquake source mechanisms in more detail than conventional geophones,” said Tom Hudson of the University of Oxford. “If we can analyze the source mechanism—how an earthquake fails or fractures—then we may be able to attribute the earthquake to the movement of fluids like carbon dioxide in a reservoir.”

    The Antarctic microseismic icequakes recorded by DAS “are approximately magnitude -1, corresponding to approximately the size of a book falling off a table,” Hudson explained, “so they are very small earthquakes.”

    The study by Hudson and colleagues is the first to use DAS to look at icequakes in Antarctica. The fiber optic cable was deployed in a linear and triangular configuration on the ice surface at the Rutford Ice Stream.

    Kendall said there are a number of challenges to using fiber optic sensors in the harsh Antarctica environment. The equipment had to travel in pieces by boat and several planes to the study site. The researchers had to bury the fiber to reduce wind noise contaminating the seismic signal, as well as remove the signal of a generator that powered the DAS instrument.

    “We housed the instrument in a mountaineering tent, which basically served as a tiny office,” Stork explained. “Keeping temperatures within the recommended operating limits was a challenge. The radiative heating from the sun warned the tent to well in the 30s [degrees Celsius], even though it was -10 degrees Celsius outside.”

    The researchers share their analyses of icequake data with climatologists and other researchers studying the slip of glaciers and other ice movements in Antarctica, Kendall said.

    “Hopefully in the future we will interact more with scientists drilling ice cores too, as they use fiber as distributed temperature sensors, but these fibers that they put down boreholes could also be used for seismic studies like ours,” he noted.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Seismological Society of America (US) is an international scientific society devoted to the advancement of seismology and the understanding of earthquakes for the benefit of society. Founded in 1906, the society has members throughout the world representing seismologists and other geophysicists, geologists, engineers, insurers, and policy-makers in preparedness and safety.

    The society was established by academic, government, and other scientific and engineering professionals in the months following the April 18th San Francisco earthquake, with the first meeting of the Board of Directors taking place on December 1, 1906.

    The Seismological Society of America publishes the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA), a journal of research in earthquake seismology and related disciplines since 1911, and Seismological Research Letters (SRL), which serves as a forum for informal communication among seismologists, as well as between seismologists and those non-specialists interested in seismology and related disciplines.

  • richardmitnick 9:39 pm on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "‘Like a metronome’- stalagmite growth found to be surprisingly constant", , , , , Geophysics   

    From University of New South Wales (AU) : “‘Like a metronome’- stalagmite growth found to be surprisingly constant” 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales (AU)

    23 Apr 2021
    Lachlan Gilbert

    To look inside a stalagmite is to look back in time tens of thousands of years to see how the Earth’s climate patterns have shaped the world we live in today.

    Stalagmites on average have grown one metre over the last 11,000 years. These two are in Yonderup Cave, Yanchep, Western Australia. Photo: Andy Baker/UNSW.

    Like tree rings, cave stalagmites are a portal to a prehistoric Earth, and now scientists from UNSW Sydney have found they are consistently reliable as time trackers the world over.

    In a global investigation into the growth properties of stalagmites distributed across the world, the scientists found that while growth fluctuations due to climate events are evident in the shorter period, stalagmite growth over the longer periods – tens of thousands of years – are surprisingly linear.

    “Our new global analysis shows that we can consider stalagmite growth as being like a metronome and very constant over hundreds and thousands of years,” says Professor Andy Baker, UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

    “Sometimes extreme weather events can disturb this metronome for a few years, making the growth a bit faster or slower, and we can use that to explore climate variations.

    “But in general, stalagmite growth is predictable and it is this unique property that makes them so valuable to researchers – you can tell the time in the past by using the very regular growth rings that are widely present across the globe.”

    Stalagmites, which grow from cave floors as water drips from stalactites at the cave ceiling, are the result of chemicals carried by the water in solution that turns to solid form in the cave. They are built by layers of calcite crystals, which may be perfectly stacked one on top of the other if nothing disturbs the growth.

    “But in reality, there are many disturbances in caves,” says Prof. Baker.

    “Tiny particles from the soil above and trace elements of chemicals can disturb the stacking to create pores between growing crystals or even slightly change their shape in the morphology – or fabric – of the growing crystals.”

    Steady growth

    Scientists have used stalagmites as gauges of different parts of the planet’s conditions over millennia for some time, but whether all stalagmites grew the same way in caves of different climatic conditions remained unknown – until now.

    An X‐ray fluorescence map of a cross section of a stalagmite from the Cook Islands. Each dark blue band marks the onset of the wet season. Image: Andrea Borsato, Silvia Frisia/Australian Synchrotron, Victoria

    “Before this analysis, we did not have evidence that stalagmites are only found in regions with seasonal precipitation, nor was it obvious that the stalagmite growth rate is relatively unchanging over time and that this is a ubiquitous property,” Prof. Baker says.

    “What we have learned is that for an environmental signal to be preserved in stalagmite laminae thickness variations, a large perturbation to weather patterns is required – such as prolonged wet or dry years associated El Niño or La Niña.

    “But in regions where there is a seasonality of precipitation, the long-term constant growth rate of laminated stalagmites provides an unparalleled capacity for precise chronology building.”

    The researchers found that between different locations around the world, warmer climates tended towards more stalagmite growth over time, while colder climates saw growth slowed.

    But the research showed that the majority of stalagmite samples, irrespective of location, followed a linear growth over the timescale of tens of thousands of years.

    “The ‘global average stalagmite’ increased in height by about one metre over the last 11,000 years,” Prof. Baker says.

    Snapshot of the past

    Analysing the way the laminae are organised can help scientists read environmental conditions and weather events of the distant past. In seasonal climates, these changes in the fabric can occur at regular intervals, producing layers they call ‘annually laminated stalagmites’. But when extreme weather events occur, as happens with the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation phenomenon involving mega-droughts, bushfires and flooding events, variations of thicknesses of stalagmite laminae can provide vital clues.

    “We can use other chemical evidence in stalagmites to obtain records of past environmental change, and know exactly when this happened,” says Prof. Baker.

    “For example, at UNSW we are reconstructing fire histories from cave stalagmites for the first time. Working in Western Australia, and using stalagmites that have these continuous laminae and regular growth, we can identify how often fires have occurred in the past from the traces left behind from the soluble part of bushfire ash that gets transported to the stalagmite by drip water.”

    The researchers say that they still have limited understanding on how crystals grow within each lamina, so future studies could investigate the internal structure of the laminae and the crystal growth mechanisms involved.

    The analysis was published in the April issue of Reviews of Geophysics journal.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (AU) (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

  • richardmitnick 1:00 pm on April 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A song of ice and fiber", , , , Geophysics, Sandia National Laboratories researchers are beginning to analyze the first seafloor dataset from under Arctic sea ice using a novel method.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “A song of ice and fiber” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    April 8, 2021

    Manette Fisher

    A rare, peaceful sunrise at Oliktok Point during the first week of February, when Sandia National Laboratories researchers began collecting the first-ever dataset from the Arctic seafloor using distributed acoustic sensing and a fiber optic cable. To listen to and download a clip of a suspected ice quake captured during the first experiment. Credit: Kyle Jones.

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers are beginning to analyze the first seafloor dataset from under Arctic sea ice using a novel method. They were able to capture ice quakes and transportation activities on the North Slope of Alaska while also monitoring for other climate signals and marine life.

    The team, led by Sandia geophysicist Rob Abbott, connected an iDAS, a distributed acoustic sensing interrogator system manufactured by Silixa, to an existing fiber optic cable owned by Quintillion, an Alaska-based telecommunications company. The cable reaches the seafloor from Oliktok Point. For seven days, 24 hours a day, cable vibrations were captured and recorded, helping researchers better understand what natural and human-caused activity takes place within the data-starved ocean.

    This is the first time a distributed acoustic sensing interrogator system had been used to capture data on the seafloor of the Arctic or Antarctic oceans, and the team sees many advantages for future use.

    “This is a first-of-its-kind data collect, and as far as what national laboratories do, this is exactly the type of high-risk, high-reward research that could make a huge difference in how we’re able to monitor the Arctic Ocean,” said Sandia manager Kyle Jones. “This really is on the cutting edge of seismology and geophysics, along with climate change and other disciplines.”

    The team is expecting to record climate signals like the timing and distribution of sea ice breakup, ocean wave height, sea ice thickness, fault zones and storm severity. Shipping, whale songs and breaching can also be recorded. This new way of monitoring holds the potential to persistently capture a wide variety of Arctic phenomena in a cost-effective and safe manner so that scientists can better understand the effects of climate change on this fragile environment, Abbott said.

    The interrogator looks like an electronic box that can be attached to the fiber optic cable on land, and it uses a laser to send thousands of short pulses of light along the cable every second. A small proportion of that light is reflected back — or backscattered — along the cable as the seafloor it’s attached to moves due to earth, sea ice, ocean current and animal activities. The backscattered light enables the interrogator to detect, monitor and track events along the fiber, and data is stored on hard drives.

    “Quintillion’s fiber optic cable is in a favorable place on the North Slope of Alaska,” Abbott said. “This technology works for this project for several reasons. We are not sending a boat out to plant monitors; we’re not traipsing over the sea ice trying to install sensors. This cable will exist for decades and we can take good data on it. It’s a very safe way of taking this measurement in a hazardous environment.”

    Funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, this was the first of eight week-long data collection that will happen over the next two years during the project. The team will visit Alaska in each of the four Arctic seasons defined as ice-bound, ice-free, freezing and thawing. A third year will be spent further analyzing data.

    Abbott said results will be communicated with the broader scientific community and will be provided to the climate modeling community for inclusion in algorithms. Additionally, the team hopes the results of the project will show the need for persistent distributed acoustic sensing monitoring in the Arctic.

    “We’d like to provide data to high-fidelity climate models and raw data analysis,” Abbott said. “I’m also hoping to conduct a direct measurement of sea ice thickness, which is currently difficult. Right now, you need an airplane flying over or you need to go out on the ice. That can be very dangerous and expensive, and you can only do it once or twice a year. Using a fiber optic cable, the distributed acoustic sensing system could be out there 24/7/365 and you could potentially take a sea ice thickness measurement once per day.”

    Encouraging data captured in first 168 hours

    Sandia researchers are just starting to analyze the first 168 hours of data collected in February, and they are encouraged by what they see, Abbott said.

    “We see things that are indicative of ice quakes. We see events as far out as 33 kilometers in the ocean where there should be no anthropogenic activity,” he said, referring to the first two hours of data he’d looked at. “We’re certainly seeing a natural event of some sort. It could be an ice quake, or it could be a micro-seismic event in the ground like an earthquake. We’re not sure yet.”

    Closer to shore, Abbott said the team most likely recorded production and reinjection wells recycling wastewater and frequencies that are indicative of ocean tides and currents. One surprising result was the system picking up frequencies of a low-flying hover craft.

    The interrogator can record events at a spatial density of three to four orders-of-magnitude greater than traditional hydrophone or ocean bottom seismometer deployments, Abbott said.

    “In this first data collect, we weren’t expecting to see a lot of currents and ice quakes because there was stable ice cover over the entire area, and yet we do see some of those things, which is exciting,” Abbott said.

    Abbott said he’s looking forward to capturing data on whales and seals during the migrating season. The Arctic is home to bowhead and beluga whales, each having individual songs. The system should be able to record these songs in the same manner as recording earthquakes because vibrations in the ocean are transmitted to the earth, which is then transmitted to the cable. With whales, a characteristic pattern develops as the song changes pitch.

    “It’s called gliding, where over time, the frequencies start out low and go high and back down,” Abbott said. “Frequencies like that are characteristic of biological sources and are easily discriminated from other sources, such as earthquakes. Whales often sing for over 30 minutes with individual repeated notes that last a few seconds long that glide up and down.”

    North Slope weather added intensity to experiment’s critical first week

    Sandia National Laboratories geophysicist Rob Abbott said one of the challenges of working in the Arctic is the expected but frigid temperatures. Credit: Kyle Jones.

    The expected but fierce North Slope climate was a challenge. In February, the area is dark about 18 hours of the day and because snow blows much of the time and roads aren’t well marked, everything continues to look new, Abbott said. The team was also dealing with bitter cold, and while they were prepared, temperatures were about 10 degrees colder than expected, at one point dropping to minus 45 Fahrenheit (minus 77 including windchill). Even the people who work there for a living shut down all outdoor activities, Abbott said.

    “The American Arctic is formidable, 30 degrees below zero being a common occurrence in the winter months,” said Michael McHale, Quintillion’s chief revenue officer. “Much of the region is tundra and difficult to traverse in the best of weather. Working here requires significant experience and hard-won expertise. The engineering implications are enormous. Most networks and satellite ground stations do not operate in regions where they need to be able to tolerate 70 degrees below zero.”

    Due to harsh conditions, Quintillion’s fiber optic cable is double-armored with copper and steel sheathing to protect against cutting, crushing or abrasion damage, McHale said.

    “All of the company’s network components, including the cabling, are engineered to withstand the extreme Arctic environment and protect against network outages,” he added. “The subsea portions of the cable are primarily buried below the seabed.”

    Nerves lasted throughout week as successful data collection was uncertain

    The day after the team arrived, researchers met at the Quintillion cable landing facility where the distributed acoustic sensing system was installed with the help of the company. A team member from Silixa, the company Sandia purchased the distributed acoustic sensing system from, was also there to assist.

    Sandia researchers were able to utilize about 30 miles of the subsea fiber optic cabling, McHale said, and setup went smoothly. He added that the project has been a great experience so far.

    “The opportunity to work with some of the most knowledgeable geophysicists and data scientists in the country is exciting and an honor,” he said. “Supporting the work of the scientific community has long been a goal of Quintillion’s. Accomplishing that goal with a client as highly regarded as Sandia Labs exceeded our expectations.”

    During the first few days of the initial collection, there was anticipated nervousness among the team because this was something that hadn’t been done before. While Abbott has used fiber optic cables to record explosions for Sandia, he hadn’t used them on a seabed nor for something this large.

    The interrogator gathers 2 gigabytes of information per minute, and because it’s coming in so fast, it’s difficult to know whether the data is good, Abbott said. After three or four days, the team had indications that the system was working well, and it took the entire week before they felt confident about the experiment.

    “What I’m excited for is we see a lot of interesting phenomena in this data collection, which will probably be the quietest dataset with the fewest amount of ice quakes or wave action,” Abbott said. “Once we start to see the ice break up and icebergs crashing into each other in other seasons when there’s no ice up there at all, we’ll see things better like tides, currents and storms.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.

    ASCI Red Storm Cray superrcomputer at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    Sandia Z machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.

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