The Source Physics Experiment (SPE) is a series of chemical explosions conducted near Las Vegas at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). So far, five tests have occurred, the most recent being SPE-5 conducted in late April. My project will include processing and analyzing reflection data recorded along a dense row of geophones during 16 sets of hammer shots, in order to visualize the near-surface geology. This should include a fault that runs perpendicular to the dense line, separating granite to the northwest from loosely-consolidated alluvium to the southeast. It is currently difficult to determine the difference between earthquakes and small-scale nuclear explosions with seismic data, so the SPE project is designed to further constrain the quantitative difference between the two seismic sources. SPE will enable better nuclear test monitoring throughout the world.
(I know I am posting this incredibly late. I wrote it a long time ago and then forgot to post it until now)
Monday, I finalized my abstract and submitted it to AGU! It felt good to finally cross it off my to-do list. That seemed like the only thing that went right for me this week, though. Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of a bunch of software issues and many phone calls trying to figure out what was wrong. Tuesday I finally got the data to display correctly in SPW, but other issues ensued. I got through most of the filtering flows and deconvolution, but when I tried to stack the shot gathers, I got an error. We figured out that this was due to the geometry not being updated from the sgy headers in the data files. More phone calls, more playing around with the software, more emails. Since I had installed the beta version of SPW, we thought there might be an issue with the program confusing directories (I had kept the old version of the program just in case). However, IT came and uninstalled both programs (SPW 3.2 and SPW 3.3) and installed the old version once again. The flows that should have worked (and the exact ones that worked on Dan’s computer at home) still didn’t work.
So, we gave up for the time being (this was Friday by the time we conceded, I really did keep working at it up until the end). Also, since Matt was unavailable and Dan was going out of town, I no longer had any remote software support. We decided that I would try everything again once I got back to school and downloaded SPW onto a computer there. I put all the data I could possibly need during the semester onto CDs (I was not allowed to use my personal flash drive for the information, for cybersecurity reasons). Friday afternoon rolled around so I said goodbye to Dr. Snelson, logged out of my computer, and turned in my badge. I was sad to be leaving LANL for the last time, but the number of my friends remaining at LANL was dwindling and I knew I was at least somewhat ready to go home. And there’s always the possibility of being able to come back again. So I wasn’t too sad.
This internship has been incredibly frustrating but also fascinating and rewarding. I feel like I’ve worked harder for any results I’ve gotten than I ever have. The summer definitely did not go as expected; I hit bump after bump after bump. But I’ve learned some valuable lessons, the most important one being: don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being an undergrad, no one can expect me to know everything about everything. Most of the time, people are very willing (as long as you ask nicely) to answer questions. For example, one of my emailing conversations has 39 messages of back and forth, just clarifying things as we went along.
Although my initial goals were written with my first project in mind (before we switched it to reflection analysis), some of them still apply. (Goal #1) I did develop a better understanding of the project (SPE) and its purpose-- attending the project meeting in Las Vegas, attending weekly SPE meetings at LANL, and communicating with other SPE team members throughout the summer. My elevator speech isn’t the most eloquent yet, but I will get more practice as the semester starts and I am explaining my research to various professors and peers. (Goal #2) I tried to meet lots of people throughout the summer- professional researchers and fellow interns alike. Many researchers from the Earth and Environmental Science Division at LANL will be at AGU in December, which will be a great opportunity to continue to make connections and see some friendly faces. (Goal #3) When Dr. Chen had her baby, I no longer needed to use MATLAB for the velocity model (so I should really change my goal #3 to “conquer SPW,” which is something I also haven’t quite mastered yet). I have definitely made progress, but I also realize that I will never know the program as well as Matt. He knows it so well that I can ask him a question, essentially saying “help, this won’t work!” and he replies with the most likely cause of the issue and how to fix it.
This summer has been a whirlwind experience and I’m sad to see it come to a close. However, I am excited to see what the semester holds, and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity.
Cheers for the last time!
It’s my second to last week here in New Mexico. The end is near and it’s bittersweet. I’m excited to see my family and friends and move into my new apartment back at school, but that also means that school starts (it will probably be a tough semester) and of course, I have to leave beautiful Los Alamos and my friends here. And I’ll be three time zones away from Em for a little while instead of just one… a real tragedy.
This week has been fraught with more data issues. Char has been working tirelessly to get a script written to cut the data according to the adjusted shot times recorded by HK-Exploration. The uncut data is in massive disarray, with no rhyme or reason to the file names and all the header data is seriously lacking. I have corresponded with her many times to try to figure out all this mess, and as of Wednesday (today), we are close.
In between trying to figure out the data cutting, I have continued to read in Practical Seismic Interpretation and have started working on my AGU poster. I will have to get the poster approved way ahead of time, so it feels good to get a good start on it. I have now read half of the textbook as well, which means I should be a pro seismic data interpreter by the end, right?
I essentially have all my flows in SPW ready to go for when I get the cut data from Char. I’m sure they will require some adjusting according to parameters and such, but it should be relatively straightforward. I will continue to bug Matt Ralston (software developer) with any questions about it.
I realize that I am way behind on my research project, due to all the unexpected problems we have encountered along the way. However, I will continue to work on it throughout this coming semester. That will be something I figure out next week- how to get the data and SPW program onto my personal computer or a computer somewhere back at school, and in accordance with LANL rules. They are very picky about how data gets distributed, but it’s all unclassified so it shouldn’t be too complicated.
Early this week, I completed my abstract and sent it to all the authors for editing. Then I got it checked by the DC (Derivative Classifier) who makes sure that it contains unclassified information exclusively, and that the language is acceptable to represent the lab. It is now awaiting SPE approval.
Later in the week, I finally got the files to work in SPW. Other issues have ensued… but it’s progress nonetheless! One of the shot gathers is almost entirely blank, even though it should be a good shot according to the field notes, so that is next on the to do list.
Although Friday was my day off, I came to meet with Dr. Snelson and get some additional work done. We had a productive meeting and finalized my abstract to re-submit the RASSTI (Review & Approval for System for Science and Technical Information). We talked about my poster as well and she got me additional photos to put on it of the large hammer—it’s crazy big!! I had not realized how big it is or what it looks like.
Left: Photo of the FREY hammer, the source of the data I am using.
Saturday, I headed to Albuquerque to meet up with Liam, Max, and Kevin. We went to Hunter’s (Liam’s mentor at Sandia Nat. Lab) house for her backyard BBQ/potluck. It was great getting to meet new people and see some people again who I had met at the SPE project meeting in Las Vegas earlier in the summer. Liam and I dominated at cornhole, too! (Well, not really. We won once and lost epically once, haha). It was a very fun event.
Kevin and I had talked about going on a hot air balloon ride the entire summer, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. So I figured this was our last chance. We bought the tickets during the week and Sunday morning, we went for a balloon ride! We planned it before the tragedy in Texas occurred, and it was crazy to be going on a hot air balloon ride so soon after that crash.
It was a sunrise balloon ride, so we had to be at the office by 5:30 am. (which means I had to get up at 4:30 am…needless to say it was a short sleep). We were both extremely tired, but we woke up a little more out of excitement when they started filling the balloon with air. Our balloon had six passengers and the pilot, who seemed very experienced and passionate about ballooning. We climbed to over 3,000 above the ground, and it was crazy that we were just out in the open air that far up. We flew right over downtown Albuquerque and ended up over by the airport. After about five planned landings and one successful one, we ended up on a golf course property. Our basket didn’t tip over while landing, but the pilot prepared us just in case (honestly, I kind of wish we had. It would have been a good story).
Left: Hot air balloon ride Sunday Morning with Kevin!
Overall, not the most productive week, but a great weekend. My last week in New Mexico is fast approaching. It’s crazy how fast this summer has flown by! Stay tuned for a sappy final post next week!
This week involved trying to figure out lots of logistics. It turns out that using an .xps file in SPW won’t work well for my data, because that tells the program to use all the traces from all the geophones instead of just the ones I selected (along the south dense line of receivers). So, Matt helped me sort through that, to choose the desirable traces (only vertical components). We will have to see how it goes with the cut data, though.
This week, I also worked on my AGU abstract. I have to get it submitted to the project coordinator by next Wednesday (July 27) so that I can submit a RASSTI (Review & Approval System for Science and Technical Information) … so that I can submit it to AGU. Lots of steps to execute, so I’m glad I started early! I went through a few iterations of editing with Dr. Snelson as well, so that it gets polished up before submitting.
Cutting the data has been an ongoing issue for me. Dr. Chen was originally in charge of cutting all the Large-N data according to the corrected shot times, but the early baby arrival put a twist in that plan. So, I was then put in charge of cutting my data (only 16 shots, that shouldn’t be too hard, right?). Richard uploaded all the data to the SPE server, but after many phone calls to different people, we concluded that my computer (which operates on Windows) cannot access the server. I would have needed UNIX or Linux to do so. Getting Linux on my computer was an option, but THEN we realized that I my computer was on the wrong network all along. It had been treating me like a foreign national, with very more limited access to everything. I put in a request to join the regular network, since I am a U.S. citizen. I talked to Jim and he was going to get me a macbook so that I could access the server, but we realized that it would probably take way too long (since I only have two weeks left). So at the SPE meeting, Dr. Snelson advised me to ask Char to cut it for me and send it to me. In the meantime, I’ve been editing my abstract and I started to read in the textbook Practical Seismic Interpretation. I’m hoping that becoming familiar with seismic interpretation will help me when I get a stack and need to interpret my results.
In general, one of my biggest challenges this summer has been to overcome and push through various changes of plans. I’m someone that likes to have everything planned out, so it is difficult when I’m not sure about the timeline on something. It is an important life lesson to learn, because rarely does anything go as planned.
Friday, I left work early at 3:00 (with permission, of course) to head to Albuquerque for a road trip with Liam and Max! I picked them up and we headed south. We stopped at a gas station Subway for dinner and camped at Brantley Lake State Park, arriving in the dark around 10:30 pm. We camped on the beach of the lake, and although we expected it to be unbearably hot all night, I ended up inside my sleeping bag; the breeze made it nice and cool. We weren’t sure what the lake looked like until we woke up in the morning to a bright sunny sky (and a good view of one very ugly bridge…).
Left: our campsite on Brantley Lake (feat. Max in his tent)
After waking up around 7:00, we packed up and hit the road. We got to Carlsbad Caverns an hour later and started our decent. All the paths in the Caverns are paved and lit, which I thought was nice so that I didn’t have to constantly looking down to prevent falling on my face. The caverns were crazy; there were countless speleothems (calcite features or “decorations”) including stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, columns, and curtains. My favorites were the ones that looked like mushrooms growing in a column or up a wall.
Left: various calcite speleothems
We then ate lunch and again, hit the road. This time we headed to White Sands National Monument. It was about 103 degrees there and incredibly bright. I was completely drenched in sweat after about five minutes of being outside and walking on the dunes. Liam bought a saucer-type sled and we took turns sledding down the dune, which was so much fun. We stopped at a little local Mexican restaurant, headed back to Albuquerque, and arrived around 11:30 pm. We had to be back in Albuquerque Saturday, because Liam was leaving for a week of field work in Nevada Sunday morning early.
Pictures of the dunes at White Sands including sledding down them-- looks a lot like snow!
Overall, the weekend was very tiring. I think I drank more caffeine over the weekend than I had in the past three weeks (which isn’t saying much), but very rewarding and definitely worth it. In twenty years, I won’t remember the long hours of driving, but I will remember the awesome things we saw and the fun times we had.
Monday, I met with Dr. Snelson who is my primary mentor now that Dr. Chen is on maternity leave. Instead of creating a velocity model, which is what I was initially going to do, I will be doing reflection processing (since that is her specialty). I will still use data from the south dense line of geophones, but instead of using the SPE-5 shot data, I will be using hammer data. In the program SPW (Seismic Processing Workshop), I will create a stack of the shot data and use that to model the subsurface and image the near-surface geology. We should see a fault that runs relatively perpendicular to the dense line of receivers, separating granite to the north and loosely-consolidated alluvium to the south. The final product will be a stack similar to this image we used during the tutorial (which came from data collected at SAGE a few years ago). This is a more difficult task than the original velocity model research plan, but Dr. Snelson assures me that I can get it done in time. She also said that I can continue to work on it throughout this coming semester some if I need to, which makes me feel better in case I don’t get enough done these next few weeks.
Left: an image from our software training which is an example of what I will be doing with my hammer data. This data comes from SAGE a few years ago.
The next hurdle (which has been a hurdle for a while now), is getting the data properly formatted and into SPW. The uncut data will be uploaded to the server very soon, which we will then cut to our desired time range, a certain amount of time before the shot and a certain amount of time after it. I also went over with Dr. Snelson how to create the xps file, which is a geometry relations file that tells the program how to input the data spatially. Right now, these are the only two things that are keeping me from processing the data. For processing the data, I will use many filters and correction methods, including (but not limited to): Butterworth filtering, spherical divergence corrections, surface consistent decomposition and deconvolution, automatic gain control, constant velocity stacking, and perhaps residual statics corrections. I have been researching these processing steps online and in textbooks (Dr. Snelson lent me her Seismic Processing “Bible” called Seismic Data Analysis by Yilmaz. I had to carry it a few blocks across LANL and it felt like both volumes weighed about 100 pounds! I think it’s just that my upper body strength is lacking, though).
Friday, my brother flew into Albuquerque from Michigan to visit me! He got in early afternoon, and we rode on the Sandia Peak Tramway before getting dinner. The tramway contains the third longest single span, hikes up about 3,819 feet, and the view from the top is stunning! At the peak, we saw some awesome limestone including crinoid fossils! (Which I was very excited to see “in the wild”). We then went to dinner with Liam and Kevin before heading to an Isotopes baseball game. The Isotopes are the AAA minor league baseball team for the Colorado Rockies. It was great catching up with Liam and Kevin again after not seeing them for a few weeks (even though Max couldn’t make it, unfortunately).
Saturday, there was a science festival in downtown Los Alamos, so we checked that out in the morning. There were lots of robots in attendance, including ones that can diffuse bombs (my brother tried on the bomb suit that they were displaying as well) and a “drone zone” where people were practicing maneuvering their various-sized drones around different obstacles. We then grabbed lunch and headed out to Ghost Ranch for a beautiful hike. Ghost Ranch is actually where Georgia O’Keefe spent lots of her time painting, and according to Wikipedia, part of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was filmed there. Sunday, we explored Santa Fe a little bit before I dropped him back off in Albuquerque for him to head home the next day.
Left to right: Sandia peak tramway, Albuquerque Isotopes baseball game, Ghost Ranch with my brother, Jesse.
This week is a short week due to the long holiday weekend. I also forgot to mention in my last blog post that Monday night, I locked myself out of my apartment and had to wait for a locksmith to let me in. The fireworks traffic was so bad in White Rock (the next town over) that it took him an hour to get there, when it normally only takes fifteen minutes. So I went to bed later than I expected, which made for a tired day on Tuesday.
However, I made some maps in SPW of the shot/receiver locations for SPE-5 with my newly-formatted .sps and .rps files.
Figure: SPE-5 binning map. Green=source, blue=receivers. This is the setup of the large array of geophones that collected data from the SPE-5 shot at the Nevada Test Site.
I also made similar .sps and .rps files from the hammer data at the test site. I struggled for a long time making the .sps file, because unlike shot SPE-5, there is much more segy data from the hammer shots. I had to extract the location from each shot file in MATLAB, which proved difficult for me. Just when I think I’ve got the hang of MATLAB, something comes along and stumps me. I’ve made it through all my previous snafus though, so I have every reason to believe that I will make it through all my future issues as well!
Thursday morning, I got to take a tour of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) over in Technical Area 69. The facility is very interesting; it’s crazy how much planning goes into being prepared for an emergency here at the lab- weather it be a fire, radiation leakage, chemical spill, health emergency, malevolent acts, and other unforeseen incidents. Brenda told us that something they have been working on recently is preparing for an earthquake! Although the chances of an earthquake are extremely low, they have to be prepared, because an earthquake could potentially shut down/destroy a lot of the lab and the town in general. One of the coolest parts of the tour was getting to hold the fuselage to a drone that looked like an airplane. He said that with all the engine and equipment inside, it’s worth on the order of $100,000.
By the time lunch rolled around (still Thursday), I was wondering why Dr. Chen still wasn’t in her office. She hadn’t responded to my emails since Tuesday early afternoon, and I knew she would have told me if she had something planned and wasn’t going to be here. Around 4:15, Dr. Snelson came in and told me that Dr. Chen had had her baby yesterday (Wednesday)! Even though the baby came three weeks early, Dr. Snelson reported that Dr. Chen and the baby are both healthy and doing well! Since Dr. Chen was cutting the data that I would have been using for the velocity model, Dr. Snelson and I are having a discussion early next week about what I will do next. Someone might be able to cut the data quickly for me to use, but my project might also need to be slightly modified. We will see though!
Friday evening, I drove to Santa Fe to see Dr. Snelson’s talk at SAGE and to see the SAGE people one last time! It was in the midst of their final projects, so some people were very busy finishing up and practicing their presentations. I did get to see Hannah and Enrique, though! They took a nice destressing break and got food with me. Saturday, I went to REI to get a new raincoat (my other raincoat was stolen in last week’s accident, and it was a good excuse to go to REI). Sunday, my friend and I rode on the Cumbres and Toltec scenic railroad. It was the first time I had been to Colorado (it was very curvy so there were about 18 border crossings between CO and NM). It was beautiful!
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week I attended SPW (Seismic Processing Workshop) software training. Geophysicist Matthew Ralston taught the course, and it turns out he had actually been at SAGE a few days prior! The software training facilities for LANL are actually downtown Los Alamos, so I was able to walk to the course from my apartment in about five minutes. The change of scenery was nice!
During the training, we first learned the basics of the software: how to upload data, what the data formatting should look like, and how to map out the sources and receivers from the survey. Then we learned filtering techniques (like Butterworth filtering, I had never heard of that before), how to use deconvolution, apply normal moveout, and stack the data. Monday, we used practice data from a straight line of geophones. Tuesday, we used a bent/curved line from a vibroseis survey recorded during SAGE a few years ago. It was interesting to see the binning map showing where all the common midpoints are for a curved line. Having a non-straight line of geophones complicates things quite a bit, but it’s more practical because the vibroseis was able to follow the existing road.
Wednesday, we worked with our large-N dataset and I learned how to pick the first arrivals with the software. I will use this to develop a velocity model of the subsurface. Before I can do that, however, I have to convert source/receiver location data from the segy headers into .sps (source), .rps (receiver), and .xps (geophone relationship geometry) files. I have successfully converted the .sps and .rps files, but the .xps file is more complicated so I think I will work on that with Dr. Chen later.
Unfortunately, I can’t take pictures of my workspace because of the rules here at LANL. We aren’t allowed to take any pictures on any LANL property, whatsoever. So instead, I will describe my workspace.
I share an office with five other people, ranging from a just-graduated undergrad to retired. I would say that my office is sectioned off into “open-plan cubicles,” but it is difficult to describe. Dr. Chen’s office is only a few doors down now (she moved offices just last week), so it is very easy to pop on over if I have any questions. All of the people on my floor work for the EES division (Earth and Environmental Sciences), so there are EES conference and break rooms down the hall from my office. I have been to a few lectures in the conference room (including a former IRIS intern who works at USGS Golden, Colorado now). Every Thursday afternoon at 3:00 pm, people gather in the break room to have espresso and cake. Unfortunately, I don’t like espresso, but I always try to steal a piece of cake- someone around here is great at baking cakes. The break room has four screens up on the wall with a map of current seismic activity all around the world and describing the most recent significant earthquake.
Since I can’t post a picture that I have taken on lab property, here is a picture of LANL from google (the building I work in is somewhere off to the upper left of this picture):
This weekend was an extra-long weekend, because in addition to getting Monday off for the Fourth of July, I also had Friday off! (I get every other Friday off if I work nine hours a day). Saturday I went to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, then onto Taos where we hiked up to Williams Lake. Sunday, we went to see the art collective in Santa Fe called “Meowwolf.” The main exhibit is called “House of Eternal Return,” which is a huge interactive story-telling wonderland. It’s difficult to explain, but I highly recommend it to anyone in the area. Monday (Fourth of July), I met up with Hannah and some other SAGE people to go hiking up to San Antonio Hot Springs. The hike up was very fun, I enjoyed getting to know some other SAGE students a little better. After a few hours of hanging out at the hot springs, a woman came and told us that a few cars in the parking area had been broken into. Elizabeth’s car, the one I had been riding in, was one of the cars. Unfortunately, a bag of mine with some extra stuff in it was stolen… and Hannah’s wallet was gone. It took a while for the police officer to show up (it being the Fourth of July and all), but after a few hours we got the report filed. Definitely not the best way to end the weekend, but overall it was a great weekend nonetheless!
From left: On the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Williams Lake, and having fun about T minus 30 minutes before we realized the car had been broken into.
This past week, I have been checking over the header data in the segy files (I keep wanting to pronounce it “seggie” but it’s really “seg-Y,” for those of you who are curious). For each seismic trace, there is a set of information in the header encompassing many categories, including trace number, source and receiver location (in coordinates) and elevation, line ID, station ID, date, time, etc. To check if the header info is consistent between traces, I have been sorting the info into matrices in MATLAB to look for patterns and abnormalities.
There are issues with many of the traces, including: 1C geophones having three traces, 3C geophones having only one trace, particularly noisy traces, traces lacking a strong signal (not visible until dramatically magnifying it), signals starting too early, and signals starting too late. I plotted the noise level at each geophone station, as well as the maximum amplitude for each trace. When the maximum amplitude for a trace is essentially zero, we know that it did not pick up the explosion signal and the trace is bad. In total, there are 1930 traces that I have sorted through and scrutinized.
Outside of work this week, I saw Finding Dory at the local movie theater (two nights in a row, actually—yes I thought it was that good), I played pickup games of soccer and ultimate frisbee in the park with other LANL students, I attended a talk given by the director of the lab addressed to all the interns, and my paper was officially published in Wiley Geological Journal! (It is completely unrelated to seismology, but I am very excited nonetheless!)
Saturday (6/25), I got to see Liam, Max, and Kevin in Albuquerque, where we visited the Nuclear Science and History Museum, explored downtown Albuquerque, and had fantastic Indian food for dinner.
Sunday, I drove to Lake Abiquiu to meet up with my friend Hannah (who was an IRIS intern last summer and the reason I applied for the program), Enrique (who came to the IRIS orientation this year), and others in SAGE (Summer of Applied Geophysical Experience). It was great to catch up with Hannah and Enrique and meet other students who are interested in geophysics. SAGE really seems like an awesome experience!
This week, one of our assignments for IRIS was to write an “elevator speech” about our research. The purpose fits very well back into one of my primary goals for the summer: to be able to communicate your research knowledgably yet easily-accessible to anyone and everyone. I found that writing my elevator speech was not incredibly difficult, because I have read over my project description many times and have had to explain my research to my friends and family many times. However, it is difficult to keep it concise and only communicate the most important, basic aspects of the research. The goal is not to bore the audience, but rather to interest them enough so that they ask questions and inquire further about your research. This elevator speech will be useful for AGU, of course, but it will also be useful for getting the word out there about your research to anyone you meet, your friends, your family, potential graduate school advisors, potential employers, interested college professors, and peers and colleagues. You never know who will be interested in what you do, and the elevator speech is a great way to find out. I think science communication skills are invaluable and often contribute to the level of success of individuals’ scientific careers. As a scientific community, I think it is our responsibility to improve our communication skills so that we can effectively convey our research and our results.
Saturday, I met up with Kevin and Liam for a hike in the Santa Fe wilderness up to Lake Katherine! It was a long and strenuous hike (for me, at least), but we made it out alive! It was definitely worth it; Lake Katherine was incredibly beautiful. Liam already posted a picture in his blog, but here is another one:
This week has mostly consisted of a project meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. We left Monday afternoon and arrived that evening. I was not previously aware of how the checking in/boarding process for Southwest works, so I ended up being in section C when we boarded (I was probably the fifth to last person to board the plane, haha oops!), but luckily I ended up next to my advisor, Dr. Snelson!
Las Vegas was not originally somewhere I desired to visit (just ask Liam and Em, we had discussed it the week before, ironically), but it pleasantly surprised me! An array of slot machines greeted us as we walked off the plane in the airport, but there is always so much going on in the city (and the geologic setting is beautiful as well). At 2:30 in the morning, they imploded the old Riviera hotel (but not before having a huge fireworks display to ease people into the idea of a loud explosion). I had a perfect view from my hotel room window; I had never experienced anything like it before, it was incredible to watch. I also couldn’t help but think about the seismic signal it created. I wonder if somebody somewhere is trying to filter it out of their earthquake data, haha.
The meeting was very interesting and informational. I took lots of notes and received a great background of all the working parts of the project. It’s incredible how much planning and preparation go into executing a huge undertaking like this. We learned about all the problems with the datasets (some seismic signals arrived before the shot even happened- magic!), and the initial analysis and interpretations of all the datasets. We also got to see a video of the explosion (which seemed to peak everyone’s interest, haha).
Thursday, I met with Dr. Chen to go over my next step in the process. Starting Monday, I will be checking over, or “QC-ing” the data. Since it is brand new, some of the information in the headers is wrong. There are just under 2,000 traces that I will be checking for errors, which sounds like a lot! I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it, though. I am excited to be working with data. When I got the data and plotted a few seismograms in MATLAB, I could clearly see the explosion. It was very exciting even though a few seismograms don’t mean much in the scope of my entire research project. But I’ll take it one step at a time!
One skill from the IRIS internship self-reflection rubric that I really want to focus on this summer is to "communicate knowledgably about your research area and discuss concepts in a scholarly way with academic colleagues (e.g. defend an argument when asked questions, and explain your project to people outside your field." This is very similar to one or two of my goals that I discussed last week. I think it is so important to be able to explain your research to someone with no background in the field. That is when you prove to yourself that you understand everything. Also, being able to hold an intelligent conversation with other active source seismologists is a great first step to becoming a professional seismologist. For me, this internship is the first step in becoming a successful seismologist and expert in the field.
After finishing the first week of the official internship, I can now say that I’m mostly settled in!
It was a long week of trying to figure out where everything is located, how to not break the rules here at LANL, and playing phone tag with IT (this included using the community office phone that is just barely too far from my desk to use comfortably at my office chair- I’m sure that was an interesting sight, haha). I eventually got MATLAB onto my computer after a few days and figured out travel plans for the project meeting in Las Vegas.
One strange thing about working at LANL is that we can’t take pictures anywhere on the property. It’s strange to think that no one will ever know what my building and my office look like! My mom wanted a picture of me with the “Los Alamos National Laboratory” sign, but I quickly squashed her hopes of ever seeing getting one (sadly). Here at LANL, they also speak in acronymese. There are a million acronyms they use on a regular basis: GL, PPE, PPA, IRT, IWD, CIT, ISSP, MRO, CUI, OUO, and that’s not even half of them. (Don’t ask me what they mean, I’ll learn what they all mean just about the same time I’m finishing up at LANL).
I have developed a few preliminary goals for the summer (which might change as time progresses):
Since the data that I’ll be working with is so new, I am excited to be one of the first people to work with it (the shot was executed in late April). I am also excited to explore more of the area. It is beautiful up here in Los Alamos. We are at about the same elevation as Denver, and the town is located on multiple “mesas” with canyons in between (this gets a little annoying to drive places efficiently, but it also makes it incredibly beautiful). Here is a picture of a stop on the way into town:
Stay tuned for the next blog post!
We made it to the fifth and final day of IRIS orientation. It's bittersweet becuase I have really enjoyed this week but I am excited for the summer. I was so nervous the first day, meeting new people and not knowing much (anything) about seismology. However, we quickly warmed up to each other within the first few days, and I slowly began to understand the language of seismology. I'm not saying I'm an expert, but I know infinitely more now about seismology than I did before (well, infinity times zero is still zero so that math doesn't quite work out, but you know what I mean.)
It's sad to part ways with IRIS friends, but I'm looking forward to a summer full of new friends, experiences, and of course, seismology!