Well, after a week of field work, I am now home and it feels good. Getting ready for school and am excited for the new semester to start, even though it will be ridiculously busy.
Field work was great and I had no idea how beautiful Idaho was! (who woulda thought?) It was near the most physically demanding work I have done, and was a great way to burn all those calories that had built up over the long summer of sitting in the lab. We were deploying an array of broadband stations across the Idaho batholith, which made for ridiculously long and hard carries of equipment. I was lucky enough to get to carry 70lb batteries to every station we deployed on 100+ meter hikes laterally and anywhere from 20 to 100 meters vertically. Good leg workout! I feel pretty comfortable in deploying broadband stations now, and I thought it was definitely the most entertaining part of my internship. Don't get me wrong, I learned a TON from my research project and am very happy about the results, and I wouldn't have traded my choice of internship for any other one.
I now have 3 days of summer before my new semester starts, which I will fill up with fishing and doing chores to get my house liveable. It is nice to be back where all the rocks are familiar and I know the history of the area (Idaho was torture because none of the people I was working with new the geologic history of the rocks). It was an awesome summer experience and I can't wait to see everyone and what they accomplished at AGU!
Ahhh the joys of checking baggage...
So yesterday, we left Virginia on our long and stressful journey to Boise. Our scheduled flight out of Virginia was at 5:45, but unfortunately due to bad weather, Chicago (where our plane was coming from) started experiencing delays by 11AM Central Time. Our flight departure was slowly but surely pushed back for a total of a 4 hour delay. We thought we had missed our connecting flight to Boise, so we rescheduled flights so that we could stay in Chicago for the night. When we finally arrived in Chicago at about 10:15pm, we saw that our Boise flight had been pushed back to 12:30am departure instead of the original time of 9:20. We scrambled around O'Hare and tried to get our baggage rerouted to Boise (the original destination tagged on the bags), but since Roanoke Airport retagged our luggage for Chicago (but didn't give us a sticker for it), we had no idea where the bags would go, and airport security was closing. We talked to a customer service representative from United and he told us that our bags were downstairs and we wouldn't be able to get back in that night. The grad student and I decided we would get the luggage, stay the night in Chicago and bring the luggage to our Prof. the next day because he had a meeting in Boise that he had to make by 10 the next morning. When we went to baggage claim, our bags were not there, and we talked to the serviceman there, who told us that our bags were on the plane to Boise. I was livid at this point and asked to talk to a supervisor. I told her the story (hoping to get a free hotel that night because they made us leave the airport while our bags were on the plane). She was probably the only person in the United States that works for an airport that takes pride in her job, and she got us back through security and onto our plane for Boise. When we arrived in Boise at 4am, we went to baggage claim, and it turned out that our luggage didn't make it, and was sitting in Chicago...at this point we all just laughed because it seemed like there was nothing we could do right in order to keep our bags. Finally made it to the hotel at about 5am, and got a good 3 1/2 hours of sleep.
We just had some hot breakfast (which was the first meal besides crackers and a Baby Ruth that I have had in 20 hrs), and are currently waiting for our bags to make it to Boise (I pray to God they make in on the flight that comes in at noon...), and are about to go get our transportation taken care of along with some other chores.
Hectic day of traveling, and what did I learn from this?
1. Chicago sucks
2. never check baggage
Finally submitted the abstract, and I must say...it looks good. Now I am sitting here in Blacksburg on lockdown at VT because some 9 years olds said they saw someone with "a gun" (someone holding a piece of cloth with something under it). Good for the people that didn't want to have summer school today. I was completely oblivious to this when I was going to school this morning about 20 minutes after the sighting. The campus alarm was going off, but I had no idea they had a campus alarm...and rode my bike right through the middle of campus wondering where all the students were and why their were cops all over the place. Got to my building and some guy opened up the locked doors for me (kind of stupid of him, since I'm a complete stranger) and told me what was happening. I laughed and talked with some people some more, not sure why someone would be scared of a gun when its 9:30 in the morning in the summer at a college campus...I figure if they were gonna do something crazy, they would wait till school started at least. Other than that, nothing exciting happened with that situation.
Now that the abstract is turned in, I'm not sure what to do over my next 4 days in Blacksburg before I ship off to Idaho for fieldwork. I do need to say goodbye to some buddies I made at the local sports bar Saturday night I'm glad I found some people that could talk sports around here. I'm leaving for Idaho on Sunday around 5:30 pm and arriving at midnight..what better flight could you ask for? After that, we will take a 5 hour drive to Challis (a bustling town of ~200 residents) and work there for a couple days, while slowly making our way back to Boise. We will be in Idaho for a week, and finally head home the next Sunday. I'm looking forward to seeing rocks again, I know a lot of people like the nice green terrain around this part of the country, but I think I thrive in a more arid environment. It was pretty cool to be able to see a river that had water in it everyday though, instead of 2 weeks a year like in Phoenix. I will definitely miss the small town atmosphere and not having to pay a dime for gas all summer, but am excited to get home.
The biggest news of the day was that Arizona State's football team is preseason ranked 26th, and is coming to upset the Pac-12. We have a lot of returning players, and this year WILL be the first step in regaining our long lost reputation of a being a football powehouse! Too bad it waited until I was a senior, but I'll take what I can get.
On to tomography! Dr. Hole's tomography code has been run, rerun, run again, deleted, and repeated. In order to run the tomography, I had to make an average 1D velocity model over all of my travel time picks, and let his code adjust my velocity model as needed in order to fit my data in different locations. The geology along my seismic refraction line obviously varies and can be observed on the surface, where lacustrine deposit surround rhyolite volcanics near the middle of the Salton Trough, so obviously an average 1D model in an area that goes from sediment to volcanics is not perfectly accurate. Luckily for me, the tomography code can fix this by ray tracing and adjust the velocities of the subsurface to their (near) actual positions. I used many different smoothing and regridding ratios, along with average velocity models that I knew were wrong (either too fast or too slow) to test the consistency of the model with regard to my picks. The model looks very consistent regardless of velocity model and smoothing characteristics, which is a very good sign!
I apologize to those who like to look at pretty pictures, but I would like to save my results for the AGU conference in December! But I will tell you that we have found some very interesting things in relation to the volcanics in the Salton Trough, and a possibly previously unknown feature to the northeast of the volcanics. Dr. Hole was out of town this week, so I'm very excited to talk with him about my results and see what he has to say.
Also, I made a rough draft of my abstract for AGU, and have started to write some of my sections for the poster presentation. My project is moving at the perfect pace and I am on schedule to get everything done in order to put together an incredible poster. Also, to unwind after the abstract due date, we will be traveling to Idaho to do some fieldwork (possibly mapping!) broadband deploying, and maybe even some drilling. Details are still up in the air, but a week out of the office in Idaho looking at geology is the perfect way to wrap up the summer!
WARNING! THIS IS LONG AND MAY BORE YOU! but it needed to be done
These last couple weeks have consisted of very fast progress on some complicated areas, the result of which have been 50 hr work weeks. Don't get me wrong! I'm enjoying all of the things I am doing, and the fast pace at which I am required to learn GMT along with editing fortran and compiling text files in order to run my professor's code give me a lot of motivation to make progress. But...after long days in the office, the last thing I want to do is post to my blog, and since I am feeling motivated and had a relatively light day today (discussing backprojection, forward modeling, and tomography with my professor from 9am to 5pm today) I feel like I can finally fill you in on my project for the last couple weeks.
The bulk of the week before last was spent on refining my first arrival picks from active sources from 12 sources over ~500 receivers in the Salton Trough on a line which runs through recent volcanics (10,000 years old) and geothermally active areas where the heat flow is high enough for this area to be the second most producing geothermal field in the country (Interestingly, the heat flow in these fields is the highest in the country, but is not as developed as the 1st most producing field located in California). Refining these picks consisted of checking reciprocal travel times from shots to receivers near other shots, and vice versa and checking to makes sure the picks between the two shot gathers were consistent. This was a very tedious and difficult task, especially at long offsets, where the magnitude of the signal from the shot is near equal to the background noise of the receiver. These adjusted picks were used to make an updated version of the MATLAB figure seen in my last post, and create a 1D velocity model for the Salton trough sediments.
After this, I spent some time putting my shot information, travel time arrivals picks, and receiver information into files that could be easily read into Dr. Hole's tomography codes. It was relatively brainless work, which was a nice break, but took time. I also had to rotate my line from the array and define a new, smaller coordinate system for locating shots and receivers by converting eastings and northings to x and y. This was not too hard, but was a confusing issue at first. The goal is to make as small a box as possible to encompass the shots and receivers used to make a 3D tomography model later on. A new map was made from the new coordinates, and thus started my crash course in GMT. Thanks to Rob's helpful notes (and the simplicity of my map), it was not too hard to make.
This last week was spend organized my large mass of new files into organized folders that could be easily placed in the codes I will be using to get a tomography model, and the goals for today and tomorrow are to get the various codes to run tomography models and be able to look at them in GMT. We have a lot more trouble shooting of codes coming up, but will finally be able to start producing tomography models! YAY!
Only three more weeks till the abstract for AGU is due! (and my prof is letting us all know it!)
So, I never got around to posting a blog last week because I was feeling kinda like...
But, after working through all the pain and frustration of picking, over and over again...and struggling with MATLAB to make preliminary figures, I finally got myself an image of one of the lines in the Salton Trough!
YAY! Here you go Rob, this is what I've been up to for the past couple weeks. Now it's on to the interpretation and tomography parts of the project!
On a lighter note, I'm gonna be spending my birthday and the fourth of July in Washington D.C.! No better place to spend Independence Day right? Also, the field work portion of this project that was cancelled may still have a chance of taking place! I'm excited to see the Northwest U.S. and get out from behind this computer!
Been spending my days staring at seismograms doing the monotonous grunt work of picking first arrivals. Went threw ~5000 different traces at least twice each, and in order to get good results, you must be VERY precise when making your choice (within milliseconds). I die a little more each day, but I know that once I start seeing some results, I will be much more motivated at being precise. I went through this same procedure in my past internship, so I know that it is EXTREMELY fulfilling to be able to see your results and begin making preliminary interpretations as to the actual geology. I'm using a program called Promax, which has some minor bugs, but works pretty well, and I am becoming a master at navigating through the program at incredible speeds. Today Promax decided to shut down in the middle of my work, and I lost what I had been doing for the past 45 minutes, which I then had to do over. Fortunately for me (and the computer), I thought twice about throwing the computer out of the window of the lab, and I have a feeling that this will not be the last time I have this feeling, especially when Graduate School comes around.
I will hopefully have some good preliminary results by the end of the week, as long as I stay relatively focused. This week should be pretty busy with finishing the first run through of the data and studying for my GRE which I am taking on Saturday. Wish me luck!!
I finally got the specifics on my project I'll be working on over the summer; looking for the underground plumbing of the rhyolite dome system in the Salton Trough with refraction data. Project will either be a hit or miss on the results, and the final data is (slowly) being organized and hopefully I'll have the final cuts of data to look at for next week. I FEEL LIKE I NEED TO GET STARTED IN ORDER TO PUT TOGETHER AN AWESOME POSTER! However, I am now well acquainted with how the data should look and what to look for, which should accelerate my actual data analysis when the final data is ready. I have read so many research papers about the area that they are starting to get repetitive. By the way, LOVE the Stein and Wysession book I got during the orientation. I haven't been able to find a good geophysics book for a year now, and I didn't even have to pay for this one.
Blacksburg is a small town with relatively little to do, which will definitely help me focus on my research! (unfortunately, bore me as well). I'm sure this will turn around once I've been here longer though. It's so green and hilly here, which I am definitely not used to being from Phoenix, where there is little vegetation and no hills (only mountains) which can be clearly seen from anywhere in the city of Phoenix. They have a Chipotle here, which will definitely help me in my summer endeavors.
For this summer, I would like to relate the geophysical aspects of the Salton Trough upper mantle and crust to theories about the various geological observations and tectonic theories that have been applied to the area. My goal is to better constrain the actual processes taking place in the area so that we can better understand plate tectonic theory in complicated areas and its resulting effects on observations seen in the field, especially relating to the Salton Trough region. I would also like to find out if mantle upwelling is present and active in the region by better understanding tomographic modelling data and relating that to mantle phenomena. I want to work as hard, if not harder than graduate students and get useful results by the end of the summer that I can be proud of when I am presenting at AGU.