Category Archives: Research


Gierke and Oommen Present in Tbilisi

NATO 's Science for Peace and Security banner graphic

John Gierke, professor and chair of GMES and Thomas Oommen (GMES) presented collaborative work on “Field Data Collection and Slope Stability Analysis in the Vicinity of the Enguri Dam” and “External Loadings and Landslide Hazards at Enguri,” respectively, at the culminating meeting for the international project funded by NATO’s Science for Peace and Security: “SfP G4934 Security Against Geohazards at the Major Enguri Hydroelectric Scheme in Georgia.”

The meeting was held Sept. 12, 2018, in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Michigan Tech project work that was presented included contributions from MS Geology graduate Maria Diletta Acciaro and BS Geological Engineering graduates Carolyn Lucca, Zack Fleming, Nicole Bird and Erica Anderson.


NSF Funding for Kenneth Hinkel on Catastrophic Thermokarst Lake Drainage

Kenneth Hinkel
Kenneth Hinkel

Kenneth Hinkel (GMES/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $75,436 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled “Collaborative Research: Causes and Consequences of Catastrophic Thermokarst Lake Drainage in an Evolving Arctic System.” This is a three-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.

Extract

Lakes are abundant features on coastal plains of the Arctic, providing important fish and wildlife habitat and water supply for villages and industry, but also interact with frozen ground (permafrost) and the carbon it stores. Most of these lakes are termed “thermokarst” because they form in ice-rich permafrost and gradually expand over time. The dynamic nature of thermokarst lakes also makes them prone to catastrophic drainage and abrupt conversion to wetlands, called drained thermokarst lake basins (DTLBs). Together, thermokarst lakes and DTLBs cover up to 80% of arctic lowland regions, making understanding their response to ongoing climate change essential for coastal plain environmental assessment.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


Rüdiger Escobar-Wolf Comments on Fuego Pyroclastic Flow

Volcan de Fuego day and night imagesOn June 3, 2018, torrents of hot ash, rock, and gas poured down ravines and stream channels on the slopes of Volcán de Fuego—Guatamala’s Volcano of Fire. More than three weeks after the eruption, the Landsat 8 satellite continued to detect elevated temperatures in some of the pyroclastic flow deposits.

“Fuego left pyroclastic flow deposits that cooled down quickly at the surface but are still very hot inside,” explained Michigan Technological University volcanologist Rüdiger Escobar-Wolf. “Cooling deposits can show surface temperatures above the background level for a long time—weeks, or even months. However, that temperature may be only slightly above the background level, as the heat from the interior slowly seeps out of the deposit to the surface.”

Read more at NASA Earth Observatory.

New Funding

Rudiger Escobar-Wolf (GMES) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $115,024 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

Simon Carn (GMES) and Michigan Tech alumna Lizette Rodriguez Iglesias, PhD ’07, are Co/PIs on the project “RAPID: Lethal Pyroclastic Density Current (PDC) Generation and Transport at Fuego Volcano.” This is a one-year project.

Extract

This Rapid Research Response (RAPID) award will be used to better understand the deadly eruption at Fuego volcano (Guatemala) on June 3rd, 2018, and in particular the pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) that caused the fatalities. How those PDCs initiated, what caused them to move that far, and what could be the conditions under which they may form in the future, are all poorly understood issues. By looking at the PDCs deposit, mapping them and study their stratigraphy in the field, analyzing the the chemical, petrological, and physical characteristics (density and vesicularity, grain size distribution, etc.), and by using numerical models to understand their flowing dynamics, this team hopes to be able to tell where the PDCs material came from, and how it was fragmented and transported. They will also look at geophysical and geochemical monitoring data leading up and during the eruption, particularly from the local seismic network and satellite remote sensing data, to characterize other aspects of the eruption as well (eruption intensity and duration) and put the PDC information in that context. This knowledge will improve our understanding of the formation of this kind of PDCs, particularly at basaltic volcanoes like Fuego, and could be relevant to many other similar volcanoes worldwide and in the US.

Related:

Mapping Lahar Threats in the Aftermath of Volcán de Fuego


Greg Waite is an Outstanding Reviewer

Greg Waite
Greg Waite

Greg Waite (GMES) was among the “Outstanding Reviewers of 2017” named by Eos, Earth & Space Science News. According to the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the reviewers listed “have all provided in-depth evaluations, often over more than one round of revision, that greatly improved the final published papers. This increase in complexity, in turn, has increased the challenge and the role of reviewing.”

Winning reviewers were selected by the editors of each journal for their work. Editor M. Bayani Cardenas cited Waite for his service to Geophysical Research Letters.

Quality peer review is thus a critical part of the social contract between science and society.Eos

Read more at Eos, by Brooks Hanson and Lisa Tauxe.


NASA Project Funding For Simon Carn

Simon Carn
Simon Carn

Simon Carn (GMES/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $27,883 research and development grant from the University of Maryland-The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The project is titled “Extending NASA’s EOS SO2 and NO2 Data Records from Auro/OMI to Suomi NPP/OMPS.”

This is the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $96,614.

By Sponsored Programs


Simon Carn on Kilauea Emission

Kilauea Emission
Illustration of the Kilauea Sulfur Dioxide Emission

Simon Carn (GMES) was quoted in the article “Sulfur Dioxide Leaks from Kilauea” in Earth Observatory. The article looks at the impact of the eruption and lava flow from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.

Sulfur Dioxide Leaks from Kilauea

Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, but in late April and early May 2018 the volcanic eruption took a dangerous new turn.

In addition to seismic activity and deformation of the land surface, another sign of volcanic activity is increased emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a toxic gas that occurs naturally in magma.

“Interpreting the satellite SO2 data for events like this is complicated because there are multiple SO2 sources that combine to form the volcanic sulfur dioxide plume,” said Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech.

Read more at NASA Earth Observatory.

In the News

Simon Carn (GMES) was quoted in the article “The lava striking the sea is gorgeous — and can be deadly,” in The Verge. Carn commented on the results when lava from a volcano strikes seawater. The story was picked up by several media outlets including the Las Vegas News and Dotemirates.

Simon Carn (GMES), was quoted in the article “Kilauea Lava Flows Hit the Ocean, Creating Toxic Acid Steam Clouds” which looks at the effects of lava from the Kilauea Volcano hitting the ocean. Research from Michigan Tech regarding the volcano was mentioned in Radio Canada.


Mark Kulie Presents on Global Snowfall Datasets

CloudSat and CALIPSO Pairing showing illustrations of two satellites
CloudSat and CALIPSO Pairing, courtesy of NASA.

Mark Kulie (GMES) is attending the NASA CloudSat/CALIPSO Annual Science Review meeting in Boulder, Colorado. The meeting runs April 23-25, 2018.

Kulie will present a talk entitled “Modern Global Snowfall Datasets: CloudSat’s Contribution.” This talk summarizes many recent and ongoing collaborative projects to develop and optimize global snowfall datasets using satellite observations.

In Print

Mark Kulie (GMES) and Lisa Milani (GMES) recently authored a manuscript entitled “Seasonal variability of shallow cumuliform snowfall: A CloudSat perspective“. This article was published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. The study illustrated the global seasonal cycle of lake/ocean-effect snow using satellite-based radar observations.

https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.3222

Extract: Cumuliform snowfall seasonal variability is studied using a multi‐year CloudSat snowfall rate and cloud classification retrieval dataset. Microwave radiometer sea ice concentration datasets are also utilized to illustrate the intimate link between oceanic cumuliform snowfall production and decreased sea ice coverage.


Simon Carn Discusses the Ambae Volcano

Ambae Volcano
Ambae Volcano

Simon Carn (GMES) was cited in the article “Ambae volcano ERUPTION: Mass evacuations ordered as volcano threatens to blow,” in Express. The article deals with the increased activity and potential evacuation of thousands of households near the Ambae volcano on the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific.

Ambae volcano ERUPTION: Mass evacuations ordered as volcano threatens to blow

A large sulphur dioxide plume was emitted from Ambae in early April and it may have emitted the most sulphur dioxide of any eruption since the 2015 eruption at Calbuco in Chile.

It was noted by Simon Carn, a volcanologist and professor at Michigan Tech.

Dr Carn said a significant amount of ash was emitted during one of these eruptions and pictures on Twitter show the extent of ash on the island, which suggested it was a pretty large eruption.

Ambae volcano is a very large volcano and is frequently active. In its recorded history there have been many eruptions – every 10-50 years over the past 150 years.

All these eruptions have been from the summit craters, except one recorded in the 1670s.

Read more at Express.


NRMM Project Funding for Thomas Oommen

Thomas Oommen
Thomas Oommen

Thomas Oommen (GMES/MTTI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $5,000 research and development contract from the University of Michigan. The project is “Remote Sensing Based Terrain Strength Characterization for the Next Generation NATO Reference Mobility Model Development.

This is the first year of a potential three-year project, potentially totaling $109,337.

By Sponsored Programs.

The NATO Reference Mobility Model (NRMM) is a simulation tool aimed at predicting the capability of a vehicle to move over specified terrain conditions.