Brandon Schow is a student at Stanford University currently completing his research at Rutgers University under Dr. Vadim Levin.
So my internship is getting close to the end. I still feel like there's so much to do, but right now it's still bringing things together. I've had such a great time and I'm sad to see it end, but I also don't have too much time to be sad because I still have so much more to get done before I go (and will inevitably still have a lot to do once I go). The highlight of last week was getting a code that I've been working on working. It was plagued with bugs, but I got them all figured out (with the help of my advisors) and got some good results. Of course, that code was the basis for another code, which I got running smoothly much faster than the first one. The only problem with the second one is that it takes about 2 day to run. It's a code that takes all of the data I have already analyzed for a single layer of anisotropy, and analyzes it for multiple layers. It's big and ugly, but I'm hoping for some interesting results when it finishes running again, which will probably be sometime tomorrow.
I've learned so much during this internship though. I've really found a love for this kind of research. It's like a big puzzle, and it's fun and rewarding every time you get a piece to fit. I'm thinking about pursuing the topic I'm working on even after AGU. I learned so much about data manipulation and analysis, I can't even begin to explain it. My ability with MATLAB, GMT, python, and Linux have all increased amazingly. I know I've learned a ton more but that's already a lot, and my main goal was to figure out what I'm interested in, and it's great to figure out that I'm interested in what I'm doing.
Going back so soon
still so much work to get done
need some new music
So fieldwork prevented me from posting last week, so I'm doing two weeks in one.
I just got back from the field. Here's a little of what it was like:
Building solar panel frames. We precut and drilled holes in the wood before we got to sites so it was pretty quick assembly onsight, just put a few bolts and screws in and it was ready to go.
Leveling an instrument.
Connecting wires and avoiding blackflies. By the end of the trip I got pretty good at putting deet everywhere and covering up too to stay away from the nasty little buggers.
Carrying a solar panel. It was much easier to asseble the frames on a road and then carry the into the site.
It was blueberry season. Lots of sites were full of them. We filled this bucket many times.
We saw some beautiful sunsets...
and some awesome wildlife.
And ended with a lot of beautiful stations.
The work was a lot of fun and it was great to travel around. I learned a ton. But now I'm back to my research and I still have a lot more I'd like to get done. I only have about two weeks until I wrap up the internship. Right now I'm trying trying to debug a code that hopefully could provide a lot of interesting analysis. The debugging is not going super well though. There is a problem somewhere, and I have yet to isolate it. But that's alright! It's an adventure.
I also have one more code I'd like to write, but I'm still waiting on some data for it, so hopefully I can get all that figured out in time. Then I also have to start preparing for making my AGU poster. I have a feeling that all this isn't gonna happen in the next two weeks, so I might have a lot to do during school.
but you have to if you can
grow a gross field beard
While the rest of the work crew is off mountain biking, I'm sitting in a coffee shop working on my AGU abstract. It's a small price to pay and I really don't mind. The fieldwork has been beautiful. Installing seismometers can be pretty fun, except for the black flies and mosquitoes. We have bug jackets, but they are really just bug filters. They keep out everything but whatever can stick a needle-like beak (misquitoes have beaks, right?) through the bug jacket and however many layers of clothing you're wearing (I swear those things could get you through a parka). But i'd take misquito bites over black fly bites any day. The black fly bites I have from a week ago are still red and swollen.
By this time we've been able to really streamline the process of station installation. We prebuild most of the solar panel frames. Once we get to a site, it is relatively quick assemble the frame the rest of the way, dig a couple holes, and mix some concrete. Of course, we still have to let the concrete set over night and come back the next day to put the sensor in and check everything. The concrete is the slow step.
I haven't had much time to do non-field work, and internet is a rare commodity, but I've gotten a relatively good amount of matlab code written on the rode, so that's been nice. Here's a little of what's come up lately: I assembled shear wave splitting analysis that I did into a bunch of figures, one of which is the following:
(forgive me, the site I uploaded this too severely reduced the quality, and I have about 5 more minutes in the coffee shop so I don't have time to fix it, anyways, it looks much better full quality).
This shows the parameters of the best quality data from my study, arranged by backathimuth. The top plot shows that there is a change in fast direction with back azimuth. My current non-fieldwork job is to investigate this.
Black flies, 'skeeter bites
however itchy they are
don't ruin nice days
I miss sleep. It's the second day of fieldwork, but it feels like a reenactment of orientation week (read trying to sleep every chance I get), but I'm sure I'll be able to catch up sometime. Other than that, it's been cool, except we really haven't started the fieldwork at all yet. Right now, we have 18 seismometers sitting in a basement picking up the music and dancing that is happening next door. (I have no idea what's going on there, but a lot of violin and cheering, it sounds pretty exciting). We're testing all of the instruments that IRIS sent us. So far, I think everything is looking alright. We did have one seismograph that doesn't work because the pins in a port are bent and are looking unfixable. Also, we did not recieve any mounting brackets for the solar panels, but we sent some of the team to the store to come up with something to get around that problem. We may start our first installation later this afternoon, just digging a hole and laying concrete. I would be overjoyed to get a nap in sometime before then, it would improve my enjoyment of everything significantly.
a good haiku came to mind
now gone forever
This week has been mostly cleaning up the data I have and preparing my laptop for fieldwork. I've been trying to load all the software I've been using so I can work on my data in the field. It's been kind of a hassle, but I've learned a lot about Linux in the process, which has been nice. I'm also trying to learn some GMT so I can plot mantle flow predictions against shear wave splitting in Eastern Canada. GMT is a bit of a syntaxual nightmare. Every command needs about 5-2000 modifier things (not sure what the technical term is) and each of those has, from what I've picked up on, close to infinite possiblities of input. People say it's great once you've figured it out. It does make pretty plots, but the learning curve seems pretty intense. Someone (who has a lot of time on their hands, and a big heart) should make a GUI for it. But considering it's been around for 25 years, it's probably not gonna get one anytime soon, so I should just hunker down and work on learning the syntax. Thankfully it's well documented. So far, in my attempts to plot the mantle flow predictions, I have drawn a beautiful line on my map which does not seem to correlate to the data in any way, the color of which I have full control of, which I guess is a win for the day. Much learning is ahead!
Wait, I just plotted
Five more ambiguous lines
Finally some results!
I spent all week doing the actual spltting analysis on all the data I have been preparing. After going through them all, I have about 300 usable measurements for 4 stations. We have a nifty little script to plot the measurements on a map of Canada. This measurements can be stacked or viewed individually. The maps are very nice looking (thanks to GMT). I also just finished up another map that puts my measurements alongside a bunch of other measurments from published literature and some unpublished measurements that other students did.
It's pretty exciting to finally see some results, but it makes me very thankful for all the work others have done and the all the literature out there. The scripts I've used have saved me days and seeing how long it took me to get these 4 measurements makes me realize how long it took to make the hundreds of measurements I just pulled from literature. I guess that's one of the coolest things about science, that we get to work together and share our results to help others and get help from other's work.
Feels like I'm swimming
I miss the dry CO air
Wish I had AC
I just finished preparing my data so I can actually start doing Shear Wave Splitting analysis on it. It's been a long week of looking at nearly 5000 individual seismograms and deciding on the quality and then righting it down. It took me about 3 and a half days to get through them all, which I feel is relatively quick to get through 5000 of anything. Luckily, I still had plenty of potatoes to give me energy. (Thanks for the twice-baked potatoes recipe Michael! I started making it and realized I didn't have milk, so I substituted eggs - which created a wonderful omletish thing) I thought I was done after that, but I still had more preperation, but it's finally done!
I've been playing around with some of the seismograms in the shear wave splitting tool today to try to get the hang of it. The program is a SAC macro called Sheba, it uses weird cursor placement - key combo commands. I've had a little instruction from my advisor, but am not super confident with my use of it yet. I think I'll go rest up this weekend and then get some clarification on Monday.
really should not post
all these last minute haikus
cus they are not good
I've been working on my research for a week now, but I'm still in the initial stages. On Monday, I used the program JWEED to pick earthquakes to get data from. Since I'm doing shear wave spliting analysis, I have to use events in a certain window (about 80 to 150 degrees from the reciever). I am using four seismographs along the Saint Lawrence Seaway: A11, A21, A54, A64 (exciting and descriptive names, I know). These have been active as broadband stations since 2000, so used events from 2000 until present. Once I got the event data, my advisor sent in a request for the data.
The next day, the data had come in, and it was time to get to work. Well, kind of to work. This week has just been getting the data ready. I will be doing the shear wave splitting analysis in a program called Seismic Analysis Code (SAC). But be able to do that analysis, I have to get the data in the correct format and do various other things, like get theoretical arrival times. There has been a lot of time checking just to make sure the data is useable. I started learning python during my three days at home before I started research, and I was able to put some of my new knowledge to work for me in writing some scripts to make some of the checking automated. It was cool to be able to apply something I had just learned that quickly. Hopefully, I will complete the initial data processing soon and start actually analysing the data!
finding how many
ways one can eat potatoes
I should buy more food
After a crazy finals week and a few days at home, I am ready to get going with my internship. I made it safely to Montreal. My bag, on the other hand, has not. Hopefully it finds it's way back to me before the smell of my clothes everyone off. Right now, my job is to familiarize myself with the software I will be using to analyze shear wave spliting at a few Canadian seismic stations.
Here are my goals for the internship:
1) Learn a lot!
I don't really care what I learn, as long as I'm learning. Right now that seems inevitable, which is a good thing. I won't make it far without picking up a lot.
2) Find direction
One of the main reasons I'm doing this internship is to figure out what I really enjoy and want to pursue. It looks like I will be exposed to quite a few different things and I'm excited to experience them.
3) Meet new people
4) Maybe learn some French
5) Write bad haikus
It's a hobby
So many unknowns
New city and new people
excitement and fear
No sleep, lots to learn
Rocks, cholcolate, and new friends
But no studying