Day: April 1, 2022

Six GMES Students Receive Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) Awards

The Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences applauds these GMES students and their advisors for receiving the  2022 MSGC Awards:

Brendan Harville, applied geophysics junior advised by Dr. Greg Waite
Title: Seismic Amplitude based Lahar Tracking for Real-Time Hazard Assessment
Abstract: Lahars are strong debris flows or mudflows caused by volcanic activity and also non-volcanic activity in the form of heavy rainfall. They can cause extensive damage to the surrounding environment as well as local communities and infrastructure. The goal of this project is to create a fully automated lahar tracking tool for hazard risk mitigation. Lahars transmit a long-lasting, high frequency tremor signal that is observable in waveform data from seismic stations (Kumagai et al. 2009). This research project plans to use an established network of seismic stations on the slopes of Volcán de Fuego, the resulting tremor signals, and the modified technique presented by Kumagai et al. (2009) to track the origins of individual lahars in real-time.

Espree Essig, geology Ph.D. student advised by Dr. Chad Deering
Title: Analyzing the effects of heavy metals on vegetation hyperspectral reflectance properties in the Mid-Continent Rift, USA
Abstract: In a society focused on global sustainability, metals including copper, nickel and cobalt have become fundamental. Despite increasing demand, deposit discoveries have plummeted owing largely to dwindling ‘low-hanging fruit’ that are near-surface. With this challenge, exploration for buried and vegetation-covered mineralization has become more relevant. However, short of direct geological observations, a proxy correlating mineralization with surficial patterns is necessary. The aim of this study is to analyze the effects of heavy metal enrichment on the hyperspectral reflectance properties of vegetation near polymetallic (Cu- Ni-Co- PGE) mineralization in the Duluth Complex, northeastern Minnesota. This natural laboratory is regionally representative of the mineralization perspective across the Lake Superior region, where vegetation, wetlands and glacial till have impacted exploration efforts and success. This pilot-study investigation will resolve the feasibility of vegetation-based hyperspectral methods to detect poorly exposed deposits in the Lake Superior region.

Caleb Kaminski, geophysics MS student advised by Dr. Aleksey Smirnov
Title: Investigation of Ground-Penetrating Radar Interactions with Basaltic Substrate for Future Lunar Missions
Abstract: Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a suitable tool for interplanetary rover exploration on the Moon. Anticipated future lunar missions sponsored by governmental and private organizations alike are making headway toward a breakthrough in planetary science. Understanding the geological and geophysical properties of the lunar regolith is paramount for the beginnings of permanent structures on the lunar surface. The Moon’s surface is primarily composed of basalt, a common[AS1] volcanic rock found here on Earth. My proposed research will focus on the effect of basaltic grain size on dielectric permittivity [AS2] and electromagnetic (EM) signal velocity, using 500 MHz and 1000 MHz GPR antennas. My hypothesis is that changes in the grain size of basalt from silt to small boulders will affect the EM properties of the material. Gaining a further understanding of the interactions between basalt and EM waves will benefit future engineering and mining efforts that involve the lunar regolith.

Katherine Langfield, geology MS student advised by Dr. James DeGraff
Title: Structural Characteristics of the Keweenaw and Hancock Faults in the Midcontinent Rift System and Possible Relationship to the Grenville Mountain Belt
Abstract: Since the mapping of the Keweenaw Fault in the 1950s, significant advances in mapping technology and knowledge about fault systems have been made. This project will remap the hanging wall and footwall of the fault using advanced geospatial technology to reexamine the kinematics of the Keweenaw Fault in the Laurium and Hancock Quadrangles, Michigan.

Paola Rivera Gonzalez, geology Ph.D. student advised by Dr. Kari Henquinet
Title: Impacts of La Canícula (“Dog Days of Summer”) on agriculture and food security in Salvadoran communities in the Central American Dry Corridor
Abstract: A rising population, demand for natural resources, and a changing climate are exacerbating vulnerabilities globally and elevating the priority to mitigate risks. The impacts of these changes on agriculture in rural communities jeopardize regional food security and water accessibility. In the Central American Dry Corridor, La Canícula or the “Dog Days of Summer”—a short-duration dry period during a six-month-long rainy season—is expected to lengthen and worsen in the next decades (Anderson et al., 2019), bringing more frequent drought to countries like El Salvador. This study examines the changing canícula and its effects on rural, eastern El Salvador using ethnographic methods and physical measurements—satellite-based data of precipitation, soil moisture, and temperature—to correlate geophysical changes to farmers’ experiences, adaptation practices, and decision-making. Integrating local knowledge and hydrometeorological conditions highlights the most affected areas in agricultural communities, documents existing adaptive strategies, and may inform future adaptive planning.

Emily Gochis, geology Ph.D. ‘22, advised by Dr. John S. Gierke
Submitted through the Copper Country Intermediate School District
Title: Lift and Launch the Western U.P.: SOLID Start (Science, Oral Language, and Literacy Development from the Start of School) for First and Second Grades
Abstract: Early elementary students in the Western Upper Peninsula (WUP) have limited access to STEAM learning experiences. The WUP comprises largely remote, rural communities and is home to two Sovereign Tribal entities. WUP communities have historically lacked equitable educational resources because of isolation and poverty. Lift and Launch the Western U.P will increase student engagement in STEAM by coordinating a Pre-college Education program that includes multi-district adoption of the NGSS-aligned curriculum, SOLID Start (Science, Oral Language, and Literacy Development from the Start of School). Additionally, an educational Teacher Training program will integrate place-based and career development activities into the curriculum highlighting unique attributes of the WUP. The new professional learning program would be ongoing, including summer field experiences and school year sessions, designed to increase educators’ pedagogical content knowledge. The innovative and collaborative approach would embed regionally significant examples and community partnerships into the SOLID Start curriculum.