Looking back at the beginning of the summer, I never thought I would need to learn how to pore concrete in about 20 minutes by watching YouTube videos. Concrete and I have never crossed paths until now, when my advisor told me that I would be pouring concrete this week. I didn't know anything about concrete except it's everywhere and it has rocks and cement in it. That's about it. YouTube has saved me. After watching about three videos on how to make concrete pads, I felt like a pro.
We needed to pour a concrete pad in order to install a magnetic coil. Since the initial installation of the stations, the magnetic coils were just simply buried. The orientation of these coils is very important. There are north-south, east- west, and vertical coils. If any of these coils shift or are not correctly aligned, our data could become corrupted. The first task of this week was to dig up the existing east-west coil, which had actually shifted 15 degrees from east from the ground settling! It was very clear that a concrete pad was necessary to keep the coils from shifting. After we dug up our coil we dug a hole to fit the frame of the concrete pad.
It is surprisingly difficult to level dirt after tamping it down, but we eventually got it level with a lot of patience. The next step was the dreaded pouring. Even though it was challenging and it was hot, we had fun and actually carved our intials into the concrete pad! It was awesome to be making decisions about concrete and poring the pad. Here are some more photos of the poring and my awesome team that helped!
And now the final product!
The giant white thing to the left of the pad is the magnetic coil that we will place on the concrete pad once it's cured. The wood and the four poles sticking out of the concrete is part of the base of the brackets that will be placed on the concrete pad. The wood frame just aligns the base boards and the four rods that were inserted into the concrete (which cannot be seen in this photo). The last step was to just water the concrete for a few days with a cloth on top. Lastly, the lovely view that we had the entire time while working.
The San Andreas actually runs along near the base of the hills in the back of the photo.
So in conclusion, here are some things I learned from this adventure:
1. I cannot carry 80lb (i.e. bags of concrete)
2. Home Depot has become a third office for me because I frequent it so often now.
3. You have to water concrete like grass so it doesn't crack while curing.
4. Always align the coils with magnetic north.
5. Always buy more concrete than you might need.
6. Youtube never fails.
Till next time!
For the past week or two, there has been a bunch of field work. I have been to three stations over the past two weeks. One in Hollister, CA, about an hour south of Palo Alto. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos, but I will try to take some when I go again. Another near the San Francisco bridge, for which I have a couple lovely photos! The first photo is a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is just five minutes from our MHDL station.
This next photo is of the MHDL station. Ian ( a stanford intern on the left) and Darcy (one of my advisers) are measuring out where the new coild will go. Also, our NEMA box was tagged by the "Family Vandal Squad." They sound pretty scary, right? I guess our station is part of some gang territory- lol.
The majority of my work this week has been at the Jasper Ridge station. I will upload pictures of that site when I can access those photos.
Thanks for reading my blog!
The past week has been mostly filled with creating different types of plots in Matlab, going in the field to prepare our Jasper Ridge station for testing, and trying to access data on the Stanford servers from a testing of a prototype Jerrettizer from two years ago. I have been using a lot of Matlab lately to try to wrap my head around the data I will be working with and preparing my plots for the testing that was supposed to occur last weekend but now will be next weekend. The Jerrettizer, again, is a home-grown analog to digital converter that we will be testing next weekend at our Jasper Ridge site. And hopefully, my plots will be ready by then as well. Another program that I am using (which I have somewhat discussed already) is Karl's software, created by one of the researchers on this project that allows us to download the data from our stations and manipulate it in a useable format.
The most challenging part of the week was trying to access the data from the Stanford servers from an old test two years ago. These data files are in a strange format that is impossible to read into Matlab. We need this data so that we can compare the new Jerrettizer with the prototype from two years ago. However, I received a promising email on how to convert the data into Matlab from the intern that was in this project two years ago. Unfortunately, these conversion files are over at Stanford as I will not have a chance to make it to Stanford until Wednesday of this week. Tomorrow, we are heading out to our MHDL site north of San Francisco to perform maintenance on our station. By the end of this week, I hope to have all of my plots completed and all of the data files from Stanford working!
Till next time!
This week has been the inception of all programs. Before I explain this overused movie reference, here is some introduction first.
The dataset I am using is mostly collected from five stations around the SF bay area that collect magnetic and electric field data. Some of these stations have been collecting data from the 1990's. The website I posted on my last blog only allowed you to view the data, but there is an interesting process into actually downloading and manipulating the data, which are completely unfiltered and untouched. I need to understand these data because on June 23, we will be testing the Jerrattizer (our new analog to digital converter).
On to the overused movie reference: In order to download the data, one must first open the program Typhoon. Then, with Typhoon, one can open Unix. Then, with Unix, one can open Matlab. Finally, with Matlab, one can open Karl's software, hence, the Inception reference. It is a bit of a hairy process to download the data, but it's not as difficult as it sounds. Apparently, we are the only ones that can access this data because Karl's software was made just for this dataset and these stations. So Karl was the one to design this program to be able to download data, but Karl's software can do some cool things like,
Plot a frequency spectrum:
This spectrogram is of one electrode over three days at the Jasper Ridge site at Stanford. BART (the train that runs through SF bay area) adds a significant amount of noise to the data as seen by the peaks during the day when BART is running.
However, I must produce these same plots but in Matlab because on June 23, we are testing the Jerrattizer. It is the goal of my project to compare our own homegrown analog to digital converter (costing about $2,000) with an expensive Quanterra (costing about $25K) that the stations are currently using. With a cheaper and homemade converter, there is more room for error and the chance for more noise to enter the system. Therefore, we are hoping that the quality of the Jerrattizer can be up to par with the Quanterra. There are some other projects going on too that I may end up helping with such as, calibrating the magnetic coils and converting our digital data into real units such as nanoTesla and Volts.
Till next time!
I figured it out!
Here are some nice squiggles from the BRIB ultra low frequency electromagnetic station of one week of data.
So, I guess I could start off with some things about myself. I am not sure how these blog things work but I guess I will give it a go! I am a geophysics major at Michigan Tech. I am from Kansas City, Missouri and this is my first time living on the West Coast. I studied abroad in Germany for a summer. I am a woman of few words... I think that is the boring stuff anyway, now onto the good stuff...
Palo Alto = FANTASTIC! There are not enough words to describe my first week. In summary, I have had some of the best and freshest food of my life and have met some incredibly talented people (fellow roommates and geophysicists). USGS is an amazing place in itself, where its corridors are filled with the elite of the field. I just try to absorb every word I hear and take in what I can because everything I am seeing, hearing, and doing is something new and exciting. Surprisingly, my week has not been completely comprised of reading papers nonstop on my research project, it has been filled with government paperwork, trying to figure how to login onto the government computers, and trying to find my way to work. There is one thing I should be clear on: bike riding in Palo Alto. This is no trip in the park (pun intended...). I thought I have experienced road biking, but things are pretty different between the Midwest and California. Getting to and from work every day is an adventure itself. There have been many wrong turns, a failing GPS on my Android phone, and plenty of poor dead squirrels. So, yes, it is like a horror film for small mammals. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, my bike ride to work will be more like a ride in the park.
Other than concerning myself with getting around and eating fantastic food, I have actually begun work on my research. There are two other interns who are working with me on this project, but we are all focusing on something different. I am mainly focusing on the installation of a new digitizer, called the Jerrattizer! This project will require quite a bit of signal analysis in order to compare the signal with the previous system's digitizer. Apparently, analog to digital converters are expensive, so Jarrett (a cool dude from Berkley who I have not met yet) designed a converter just for our ULFEM stations. A large portion of my research will be to help test the Jerrattizer, which actually won't happen until later this month. The first couple weeks of my internship will be pretty chillax because I will be focusing on cataloging the signals from the five ULFEM stations. You can actually look at some cool squiggles at https://pangea.stanford.edu/research/groups/crustal/ulfem/ (also, I don't think our research has anything to do with Pangea...).
Or if you are lazy, here are some cool squiggles!
Apparently, my computer's security will not let me post an image directly from ULFEM stations. My blog will allow cat pictures to be uploaded, but not ULFEM data. Oh well, please enjoy this cat while I try to figure out how to post pictures that pertain to my research!
Till next time!
Orientation in New Mexico has been exciting and thought-provoking! This is my first blog post of my entire life, so be gentle!
The most interesting thing I have learned this week was exploring and learning about the Tertiary caldera in the Magdalena Mountains. It was amazing to learn about the volcanics of this caldera in such a beautiful landscape. Even though it was a challenging hike, there were many fascinating outcrops to observe.
Installing a seismometer was also exciting and being able to observe an earthquake. I have never installed a seismometer and never realized how difficult it is. Also, I learned that animals love chewing on cables!
I am very excited for my intership at USGS and Stanford! I have reviewed and learned many seismology and geology concepts this week that I think will help me with my internship.
Thanks for reading my first blog!