Category: News

Disaster risk reduction and resettlement efforts in El Salvador

Luke J Bowman and Kari B Henquinet recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Volcanology, titled: “Disaster risk reduction and resettlement efforts at San Vicente (Chichontepec) Volcano, El Salvador: toward understanding social and geophysical vulnerability.”

Luke Bowman is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Technological University, where professors Bill Rose and John Gierke have promoted interdisciplinary “social geology” research regarding natural hazards in developing countries through the Peace Corps Masters International program.

Kari B. Henquinet is Director of the Peace Corps Master’s International Program at Michigan Technological University.

Abstract: Despite a long history of volcanic debris flows on the northern flank of San Vicente Volcano, El Salvador, authorities and communities were ill-prepared for the lahars that occurred on Nov. 7–8, 2009. More than 250 people were killed by lahars resulting from shallow landslides, not to mention millions of dollars (US) in damage to houses, agriculture, and infrastructure. After the disaster, significant aid was invested in the region to reduce risk in future disasters. This case study uses the ethnographic tools of qualitative interviews, participant observation, and review of institutional documents to analyze two particular aspects of disaster risk reduction strategies in the town of Verapaz: 1) relocation of at-risk residents led by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, and 2) hazard monitoring and emergency management training programs led by Civil Protection, the University of El Salvador, and NGOs. The relocation effort, while effective at reducing physical vulnerability to debris flows, failed to incorporate livelihood, social networks, and cultural ties to homes in their project design and implementation. Since diverse livelihoods are keys to survival, and tightly-knit social networks help families share responsibilities and withstand shocks during hardships, many families returned to the high-risk area or opted not to relocate. Others have adapted using unanticipated strategies to benefit from the resettlement effort. On the other hand, the emergency management training and education programs valued local input, knowledge, and action, which has helped increase awareness and improved the overall capacity to manage emergencies through wide, local participation. The different approaches used in the two risk reduction initiatives reveal important lessons regarding the importance of community participation. Challenges derive from narrow understandings of vulnerability on the part of disaster risk reduction experts, who neglected to consider and understand kin networks and residence patterns that help maintain diverse livelihoods, as well as ensure safety and security. As demonstrated in the 2011 Tropical Depression 12E, effective public engagement and empowerment helped bridge the knowledge, awareness, and preparedness gaps that existed prior to the 2009 disaster.

Link to the article: Disaster risk reduction and resettlement efforts at San Vicente (Chichontepec) Volcano, El Salvador: toward understanding social and geophysical vulnerability

Talking Rocks, Talking Sky: Authors of Books that bridge Oral and Earth/Planetary History

Clipboard01Two distinguished authors from Duluth, Ron Morton and Carl Gawboy, will visit Houghton and Michigan Tech as part of the Carnegie Seminar Series in Keweenaw Natural History. Morton is a geologist and emeritus Professor from University of Minnesota, Duluth. Gawboy is an Ojibwa elder and well-known artist. They have taught unique classes together that bridge legend and geological science.

While in Houghton there will be two special public events.

On Tuesday, April 14 there will be a reception at the Carnegie Museum, Community Room at 6 pm, where discussion, introductions and light refreshments will be featured, and this will be followed by a joint presentation titled: Talking Rocks: Common ground geology in the Lake Superior Region and Native Americans.

On Wednesday, April 15 a book signing (Two books: Talking Rocks and Talking Sky) will be held in the East Reading room, First floor, JR Van Pelt Library at 4 pm, followed by a joint presentation at 4:30-5:30 pm, titled: Talking Sky: Ojibwe constellations and sky stories– how they used them to live on and with the land.

This special visit is sponsored by the Carnegie Museum of Houghton with additional support from the Departments of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and Social Sciences, the JR Van Pelt Library, the Indigeous Issues Discussion Group and the Isle Royale and Keweenaw National Parks Association. If you wish to meet with these visitors contact Elise Nelson (906 482-7140 or

More information about these special events is online:

Graduate School Dean Appointed to Michigan Science Teachers Association Board

image10695-persJacqueline Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School, (Professor, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences) has been appointed to the board of the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA). She will represent Region 12, which includes Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic, Keweenaw and Ontonagon Counties.

The MSTA works to support and provide leadership for improvement of science education across Michigan. The organization advocates at local, state and national levels to give science teachers a voice in determining the course of science education.

“I am pleased to be able to represent Region 12 and Michigan Tech as a member of the MSTA Board,” said Dean Huntoon. “It has become increasingly clear over the years that there is a need for individuals involved with higher education to partner with and support teachers at pre-college levels.”

Huntoon is recognized for her leadership of Mi-STAR (Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform), a project funded by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. “Mi-STAR is helping to make K-12–higher education partnerships a reality by developing new middle school curricula and new models for teacher professional development and pre-service education,” she explained. “Michigan Tech is well-poised to become a leader in science education in the future because of our commitment to excellence in applied and basic research.

“I look forward to having the opportunity to share with and learn from others on the MSTA board who are committed to continually improving the quality of science education and student outcomes in Michigan,” she went on to say.

Ebrahim Tarshizi Earns SME Program Area Manager Award

Dr. Ebrahim Tarshizi, the faculty of Mining Engineering, has received the Program Area Manager Award by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) for organizing the Mining & Exploration (M&E) Technical Program in the area of Technology and Innovation in the 2015 Annual Conference. The SME 2015 Annual Conference was hold in Denver, Colorado, February 15-18, 2015.

Ebrahim Karimi-Tarshizi is an assistant professor of Mining Engineering at Michigan Technological University Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences. Ebrahim received a Ph.D. degree in Geo-Engineering/Mining Engineering at the Mackay School of Earth Sciences & Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) in 2014. He also received an MSc in Mining Engineering with a graduate minor in Business Administration from Mackay, and an M.B.A. from the UNR College of Business. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mining-Exploration Engineering in 2004 in Iran.

Dr. Ebrahim Tarshizi, the faculty of Mining Engineering, has received the Program Area Manager Award by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME)
Dr. Ebrahim Tarshizi, the faculty of Mining Engineering, has received the Program Area Manager Award by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME)

Community Lecture: Natural History and (un)natural future of plants in Keweenaw and Isle Royale

mar17On Tuesday, March 17, Kareena Schmidt, expert on natural plant communities, will lead a discussion about Keweenaw plants. The event is part of a monthly series of sessions on the Geoheritage and Natural History of the Keweenaw, at the Carnegie Museum in Houghton. The discussions are aimed at the general public, but discuss current research and science.

Dr.-Ing. Rudolf “Rudy” Greuer Passes Away

RudolfGreuerDr.-Ing. Rudolf “Rudy” Greuer of Houghton, Professor Emeritus of Mining Engineering at Michigan Tech, passed away on Sunday, January 18th, 2015 in Michigan’s Copper Country. Rudy was born on April 6th, 1927, in Guetzlaffshagen, German Pomerania. Rudy was a veteran of World War II, serving in the German armed forces prior to spending a period of Soviet captivity as a prisoner of war. After his military service and during his studies, Rudy worked as a miner in metal, coal, and potash mines in Germany and the United Kingdom. He attended the School of Mines in Freiberg, East Germany from 1948 to 1950. He later graduated with a Diplom (Masters) of Engineering in Mining Engineering from the Technical University at Clausthal, West Germany in 1953. He was granted the Doctor of Engineering in 1955 from the Technical University in Mining Engineering.