This summer I will be working at the Albuquerque Seismic Laboratory (ASL) determining how different meteorological events effect seismic noise. What started as looking at rain and hail data spring boarded the project to focus on infrasound signals across a seismic array. Some interesting features we will investigate include determining the location of a lightning strike by back tracking the sound across the array and comparing the acoustic response to the speed of sound; thus, giving us distance and direction. Another interesting aspect to be explored is how acoustic response transforms/ or doesn't transform into seismic response; i.e. are seismometers measuring ground motion because of acoustic pressure variations or is it a simple acoustic response, and if the former where and how does that transition occur? One important application will be investigating best practices for emplacement methods and emplacement materials across the array to mitigate the noise response.
"From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. From the inside looking out, you can't explain it." - a quote used to describe being an Aggie that I think fits well to this internship 😊
The end of the summer came by really fast! I had an amazing tme in ABQ and the experience was truly one of a kind! The collabrative and creativite process was by far my favorite aspect of the summer. That's something they try to teach as an undergrad, but something that's hard to experience in a typcal classroom setting. I am truly grateful for my experience so far, and I am excited to continue my work with my mentors to write a publication and to present at the Fall 2021 meeting of AGU in New Orleans, Lousisianna!
It has only been 2 weeks since my last blog post and it feels like the entire trajectory of the project has shifted. It's extremely exciting! We cleaned up our data catalog, and reran all of the proceesing (9 weeks worth of python code). We cleaned up our explosion event catalog by having stable windows of time (instead of the previous variable time windows) and running the events through array processing. From this we made sure that our sources were stable and repeatable by comparing back azimuths of the event source (how the acoustic wave propgates across the array) and double checking that every event was in fact propogating at acosutic speeds. This lead to the question about signal to noise ratio, and that maybe even though we've cleaned up our event catalog these acoustic events just aren't big enough to not introduce scatter in the data as a result of the noise. Well, what about particle motions? Are we seeing air coupled rayleigh waves or are we seeing direct pressure loading like we hypothesized?
You can see the pattern here: from one discovery to the next, and back to the start to tripple check. At this point, we have put the abstract up for internal reveiw to be submitted to AGU by next week.
The biggest challenge I've had here is getting back up after I've fallen. That's really been the overarching theme for the summer. I might take a wrong path and lead the direction of research down a dead end street; only to have to go back to the drawing board. I don't think anyone likes to be wrong, its discouraging. I'm a rising Junior Undergrad who's experiencing his first exposure to seismology and research; of course I am going to make mistakes! One of the biggest draws for me being at ASL was the creativity of designing my own project. I came in looking at how rain data affected seimometers (my idea) and now I have plans to be second author on a paper discussing variability of acoustic to seismic coupling. I get things wrong all the time, and I just have to remeber this is a learning experience; it's supposed to be fun! I think one time I spent two hours trying to copy something off of the server onto my local laptop, and the mistake was I had capitalized one wrong letter in the command line. But then, I wrote down the correct line of code in my journal (I'm old school so yes, I write code on pen and paper) and now I reference that whenever I need to. Mistakes are frustrating, but they really are important learning tools. I have been lucky in having great mentors who have allowed me to fall just enough to be able to pick myself back up.
I only have 2 weeks left here at ASL, so we're in crunch time. Tomorrow I'll be putting in my first seismometer. I'm a bit spoiled in that my data is sent to my computer via radio and I don't have to brave the desert heat to grab the data with a flash drive. This is to be a permenant installation that sends the data directly to IRIS. I have sucessfully convinced my mentor to allow me to name the station TAMU (for Texas A&M University)! 😊 At the end of August I have the great fortune to travel with ASL GSN (Global Seismic Network) personel and some other interns out of USGS Golden to service some GSN stations in Wyoming!
My reserach has really ramped up as I enter the home stretch. The goal for the end of this week (week 8) will be to have all of my major figures done and to start draftng up the conclusins of the project. It seems at every turn in the project I am faced with more questions that I want to answer, and I am constantly suprised at the outcome. Normally my SWAG (Scientific Wild *** Guess) is way off, but then I get to ask why the data does not follow the expected outcome. It's important to note that this project is constanty evolving and that we do not have a predetermined outcome. This allows my mentors and me to follow the science of what we observe. We have predictions, but we never let those skew how we observe the data.
I think it's important to make notice of how far I have come: I started with zero knowledge of seismology and the first 2 weeks I spent looking at rain data. It was important for me to have creative freedom over this project and my mentors allowed me the time and resources to look into various meteorlogical phenomenah that could induce noise. Well, rain lead to thunder, and thunder proved messy and complex so naturally we looked to the explosions on base as a source of acoustic noise. Oh boy did that open a giant can of worms!
The IRIS intern director Michael Hubenthal likes to use the term 'logarythmic growth' to define our learning curve during our internship. I am partial to the phrase 'boiling the frog'. It's a Texas phrase that means the same thing; if you put a frog in boiling water it'll jump out, but if you put the frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat the frog is none the wiser. If I had started this project at the point I am at now, I would have jumped out becaue it would have been too much for me to handle. But now, I can hold my own and I am very proud of my acomplishments thus far. Plus, I 'm having a ton of fun!
My mentors had not spent very much time looking at acoustic signal response and now we were all working to try and understand that response pertaining to different factors:
- change in acooustic signal across spatial variations
-change in S/A ratio across spatial variations
-Scatter in the data set and what that implies about spatial variaitons/emplacement methods/materials
We are exploring every possible allyway to characterize acoustic response on a small apature array. That 'characterization' is the 'meat and potatoes' of this project. It is not an easy thing to do. So far, the only deteremination we can conclusivly say (note: this is still a work in progress and has not been published, presented, or peer reveiwed) is there is no pattern ascociated with S/A response. That alone tells us something- that the literature where they say with some level certainty that they can use S/A response to chracterize subsurface constraints may not be acurate because S/A is such a localized phenomenah. Determining that the pattern is 'no pattern' is in iteslef an important discovery, but we would like to characterize the S/A response further than that. That is where I currently am in my project.
Here is the most important figure that is currently determing the tragectory of this project:
It shows us that the VEA stations in crappy sediments (bottom right corner) have an order of magnitude higher noise ratio than that of the rest of the array which is in granite. That was to be expected and further gives merit to determing best emplacement methods/materials. What was not expected as the amount of scatter in the data which we thought was due to spatial variability. However, we looked into spatial variability and cannot find a discernable pattern.
Attached below is the paper I am refferring to when above I talked about literature using S/A respinse to characterize subsurface parameters:
Artemii Novoselov, Florian Fuchs, Goetz Bokelmann, Acoustic-to-seismic ground coupling: coupling efficiency and inferring near-surface properties, Geophysical Journal International, Volume 223, Issue 1, October 2020, Pages 144–160, https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggaa304
Hopefully by now you've come to appreciate my fun blog titles, and that fact that there are probably a prolific amount of typos. This week I was tasked with creating a map of my work area; more specifically, my area of study. Google Earth is a great starting point, but I wanted a very nice representation of the ASL seismic array because the goal is to eventually put this figure in a published paper. I used ArcGIS pro to create my figure for the ASL seismic and infrasonic array. The three pictures at the bottom are of the 3 infrasound sensors I put in with the help of mentor to help determine how similar sound propogates across the array. I'm a little bit spoiled in that I don't have to go out with a thumbdrive to collect my data, but that my data comes directly to my computer. The ASA stations are cased boreholes of 2.5 m depth in Granite (except ASA4 may be on a Granite boulder). ASA9 is in a similar 2.5m cased borehole in an area called the snake pit. The VEA stations are <1m shallow burial with sandy overburden. ALQ2 is one of the reference senosrs for the lab, in a vault of precabrian granite behind 3 sets of sealed doors to mitigate pressure and temperature differences. ANMO-00 is at 180m depth, and the ANMO-10 (not included in this map is the referece sensor at 90m depth).
One thing that I am really proud of is that I am starting to hold my own at the lab. I love what I study and at this point (the exact halfway mark for my 11 week internship) I have enough figures and findings to create a poster for AGU. I am proud of my acomplishments thus far and I especially feel proud when I suprise my mentors with an idea that comes out of left-field and ends up leading to something interesting. I suprise myself with my knowledge of python now, and it feels really good to be able to contribute more to the coding aspect of this internship. "FORTRAN is a new and exciting language used by programmers to communicate with computers. It is exciting as it is the wave of the future.” -Dorothy Vaughan, Hidden Figures.
One thing that I especially stuggle with is staying on target. Every question I ask opens up a can of worms that I want to have answered by my research and it is especially dificult to keep the direction of the project when I keep finding new and interesting paths to take. I think I spent one whole morning brainstorming all of the questions and directions the project could go and I ended up with 3 pages of bulletpoints in Google Docs. Staying motivated or working hard I have no issue with, but much to my dismay I cannot do a multi-year project when I have only 11 weeks to produce a published paper. I hope that makes sense.
I have just had the world's greatest milkshake! It was at the 66 Diner off historic Route 66 in downtown ABQ. It was called the 'Pink Cadillac' after Elvis's famous car, and consisted of strawberry icecream and oreos. When I say this was hands-down the greatest milkshake I have ever had I am not exaggerating. I know milkshakes, I am somewhat of a milkshake connoisseur. This milkshake tasted like astonaut icecream (which if you have not had before you need to try it - look at the NASA space center for some)! Highly reccomend!
Howdy! Things are going great at ASL. I have been tasked with preparing an elevator pitch about my research and this week's blog is a reflection of that process. I thought it was pretty easy to take these big concepts with numerous nueances and boil them down to a 30 second pitch. That's how I normally think, becuase starting off with the most basic broad understanding is much easier to then dive into the nitty gritty details than visa versa.
Today I set up one of several sensors for the infrasound array that is goung to help us answer some questions we have about how acoustic signals interact with seismometers. To do that we had to get porous volcanic rocks to place around the sensor to mitigate the effect of wind noise. Hence the title: 'Rocks from Home Depot'.
This past weekend I went horseback riding up in the mountains. I hiked around in the mountains of Santa Fe to see the Aspens which were absolutely gorgeous.
By the tiltle of this blog post I hope you get my reference to the Hobbit. It truly has been an unexpected journey.
a) The data set I will be using for this summer has so far come from the IRIS database. I am loooking at the seismic array across the ASL lab which consists of roughly 10 stations I am currently sifting through. This data is really interesting to look at because in some cases they all have the same emplacement methods, but are geographically seraparted; others are geographically colocated but at different depths; and there are different types of seismometers which are all sending data across multiple samppling rates (LH*,BH*,and HH*). All of the data can be compared to the reference seimometer placed within a vault in precambrain granite that is sealed off from atmosphereic conditions by 3 separate doorways and an airlock that hasn't been opened in over a year and a half. Everything comes to me in digital counts and I have to use python to remove the count response and get back to velocity ofground motion. I primarily look at the data in xmax first ( a program here at the USGS to look at the raw counts of the signals). I then go into python to work on putting to gether a publication quality figure. Pretty soon here I plan to set up an experiment based on a interesting question I have put together from looking at my figures which plot a wide variety of different events and ways of comparing infrasound to seismic signal.
b)One of the skills I would like to reflect on is my computing skills. Even since last week my growth in python has improved imensely. I can now start a figure idea and execute the code to produce what I envision; or atleast a rouhgh outline of it. What it means to me to be proficient in computing? It means being able to do what I just said: produce my own code. This skill is imprtant to develop because computing is so powerful and it gets so much easier with practice. We have so much data to look at that the old pen and paper method just doesn't work anymore. It just takes practice.
I got to visit Petroglyph National Monument and see the amazing works of art there. I also got the privelage of being able to walk right on top of the cinder cone volcanoes here in ABQ on an awesome trail they have. One of the coolest places I have gotten to eat at is called the Sawmill where they have a bunch of artisan food stands and I got an amazing icecram bowl that came with a waffle shaped like a fish.
My name is Josh Watzak and I am the LOUDEST, and the PROUDEST, member of the Fightin' Texas Aggies Class of 2023! Aye Aye Aye Whoop! I am a rising junior geophysics major and a minor in Spanish language. I love coffee, Taylor Swift, and reading. I have been in ABQ for two and half weeks now and I absolutely love it! My favorite part is waking up everyday ot a new and exciting adventure. Some additional info about me, I like to wake up everymorning to a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin (emphasis on large cup of coffee). I am 20 and this is my first internship.
I intern at the Albuequerque Seismic Laboratory (ASL) Monday-Fridays from 8-4. Where I'm from in Texas it is complelty flat, so it's so much fun driving up into the moutains everyday. It's exciting to be at this lab because I am surrounded by experts who love teaching about seismology and there are so many cool peices of equipment! Just this morning I got to trouble shoot a radio station on one of the seismometers in the array. My first few days here were very interesting because it was like plunging into the deep end of the pool where I was surrounded by vast amounts of new knowledge, but as the week went by I became more in my element. There's like a running joke in the office that the people here have to remeber that not everyone has been studying seismology for the last 20 years, but they should still be able to carry on a conversation about it. Maybe its one of those 'you had to be there jokes', but as with most geology jokes and puns they're gneiss. When my parents ame to visit after my first week and I was explaining my project to them I had to slow down and go back to terms I was using on day 1 of the internship. So in a very short time I have learned alot!
My goals for the summer:
1) Ground up learning
I want to learn any thing and everything about seismology
2) Produce a peice of reserach presentable at AGU that I am proud of
Sort of along the same lines of 'ground up learning', I want to be a part of every aspect of the reserach process: reading literature, conferring with others about posible ideas, producing my own figures,setting up a lab experiment, writing a reserach paper, etc.
3) Get better at computing
While not my favorite goal, it is one that I think pertenant to my future sucess.
4) Get physically fit
Outside the scope of theinternship, I want to imporve my physical fitness. My summer apartment is located nextdoor to a gym so it must be a sign that I should be working out more. When I first walked into the gym it was pretty scary because all they had was free weights and power lifting equipment that I had no idea how to use, but I already had paid my membership so I might as well use it.