Tag: Geology

2012 Geothermal Student Competition

The US Department Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is pleased to announce the 2012 Geothermal Student Competition. The Competition is designed to support, inspire, and promote innovation, exploration, and entrepreneurship among the nation’s emerging young thinkers. The Competition platform focuses on developing and advancing the next generation of geothermal energy exploration technology that can potentially unleash an infusion of reliable, cost-effective, and clean geothermal energy into the US energy economy.

The Challenge

Undergraduate and graduate student teams, guided by a faculty member in the role of mentor, are challenged to conduct a professional-quality assessment of the Snake River Plain site in Idaho using innovative exploration technologies. Research should be based on the case study analysis provided using one or more of the following exploration technologies:

  1. geophysics,
  2. geochemistry,
  3. remote sensing; and
  4. geology.

Please note: faculty should be providing limited support. This is intended to be a student competition.

Who Should Apply?

The Competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in science, engineering and business programs of study.

Where do I Apply?

The Competition application, guidelines, and copies of the case study can all be found on the Competition website http://orise.orau.gov/geothermal

How does the Competition work?

The Competition is divided into two phases:

Phase I

Student teams, comprised of up to four students with the faculty mentor serving in the capacity of project advisor and coach, will submit an application through the website detailing their project plan. The top ten competitive applicants are selected and the winning teams, their mentors, and their schools are notified and advanced into Phase II of the competition. Teams entering Phase II all receive a $10K stipend to defray the cost associated with equipment purchase, travel and other expenses incurred during the research cycle.

Phase II

The teams are required to participate in monthly review meetings and submit regular reports documenting their progress. Phase II is completed when the Teams submit the required technical paper and present their findings to the team of expert judges at the Geothermal Council Capstone event. ORISE will manage all aspects of the competition including recruitment, program promotion, conducting an application review and coordinating Capstone judging panels, for the selection and award process.

Please contact by email geothermalstudentcompetition@orise.orau.gov or Dr. Desmond Stubbs, Program Manager at (865) 603-2461.


Unlocking the Details to How Volcanoes Work

Dr. Greg Waite was recently featured along with two graduate students, John Lyons and Joshua Richardson, in Live Science. The article, “Unlocking the Details to How Volcanoes Work” discusses Waite’s study of “mini-earthquakes.”

Waite is an assistant professor and graduate program director in the geological and mining engineering and sciences department.  Visit volcanoes to view the complete article.


Geology Graduate Student Helps National Geographic Talk About African Rifts

When National Geographic needed some explanation about the Albertine Rift, a geological formation in Africa, they came to a Michigan Tech graduate student. Again.

It’s the second time that Alex Guth, a PhD student in geology, has been tapped by the world-famous magazine to offer geological expertise in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

National Geographic sought an answer to why such a geological rift exists and its impact on the local people–a people in crisis–and the delicate ecosystem that coexists. Guth’s expertise includes the rift valley and its extremes in topography caused by the East African Rift System, where the Nubian plate is moving west away from the Somalian plate.

“There are mountain ranges with a mountain forest and a rain forest extremely close by,” she says. “The extreme topography, caused by the rift, impacts the animals. They can’t move, since the area around them won’t sustain them.” The same can be said of the people, many of whom live in a densely populated region near the city of Goma and Lake Kivu, which is poisoned by volcanic gasses.  “And the fishing in nearby Lake Albert can’t sustain the population, which helps fuel conflict,” Guth says.

That conflict, between the Bashali people, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and invading Tutsi, Hutu, and Hunde, has become so intense that other research teams have left early. “They were murdering women, specifically,” Guth says, “and recent elections have made the future ‘iffy’ at best. Intertribal conflicts, and now terrorism–there was a bombing in Nairobi Monday–make the work there even more dangerous.” The people initially moved to the valley because of the fertile land, but they have over-logged it, and the subsequent population boom created a land shortage, according to the National Geographic article, “Africa’s Albertine Rift,” which appeared in the November 2011 issue.

The magazine came to Guth for the geologic story, and she chose to tell them about the evolution of the rift valley and the “intense area,” replete with volcanoes, one of which destroyed great parts of Goma. “Working with them was interesting,” she says. “My research actually appears on a poster that is in the magazine, and they also wanted me to look at definitions they had used for a children’s edition of the magazine, for quality control.” She also had to do a little educating of the National Geographic writers. “They kept saying the mantle was ‘fluid,’ which is not accurate,” she says.

Guth hopes to return to do more research for her dissertation, opting for Kenya, where the real focus of her work exists.

Written by by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Published in Tech Today.


Jackson Teacher Honored

A teacher in Jackson won a national award for his teaching of high school astronomy and attributes the honor in part to Michigan Tech.

Mark Reed, who teaches at Jackson High School and Lumen Christi High School, won the Thomas J. Brennan Award for 2011 from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Reed was cited for exceptional commitment to classroom or planetarium education.

He is involved with Tech’s Michigan Teacher Excellence Program (MiTEP). He spent a week on campus in 2011 and will spend another week in 2012. He describes the classes and fieldwork as “wonderful”–“They get the creative juices going.”

At Tech, he worked with faculty and doctoral students, including Professor Bill Rose (GMES) and graduate student Mark Klawiter (GMES).

MiTEP is funded by the National Science Foundation to improve Earth science education nationwide.

Participation can lead to a master’s degree in applied science education.


US Department of Energy Computational Sciences Graduate Fellowships

U.S. Department of Energy Computational Sciences Graduate Fellowships

The U.S. Department of Energy provides funding for students in their first or second year of graduate study in the fields of physical, engineering, computers, mathematics and life sciences. The fellowships are renewable up to four years. Students receive about $31,000 a year, as well as a $1,000 annual academic allowance for travel, research activities and attending conferences. Some students may also get matched funds for computer support up to $2,475.


Richard Honrath Memorial Lecture

Michael Hoffmann, professor at James Irvine of Environmental Science-Caltech, will present “Chemical Reactions at the Air-Water Interface of Aqueous Microdroplets,” at 4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 3, in M&M U115.

The Honrath lecture is in memory of Richard Honrath, professor in Environmental Engineering and Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, who passed away in 2009.

The lecture is supported by EPSSI and the Honrath Memorial Fund, which also funds undergraduate and graduate students whose major and/or research demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment and/or the pursuit of knowledge about our earth’s natural forces.

Lecturers are internationally recognized scholars in atmospheric sciences who also interact substantially with students during their visit.

For more information about the Honrath fund, see Memorial.

Hoffmann will be on campus for the day on Oct. 3. If you would like to meet with him, contact Associate Professor Will Cantrell (Physics) at cantrell@mtu.edu .

Published in Tech Today.


Geology Graduate Student Honored

Graduate student Patrick Manzoni (GMES) received the platinum corporate sponsor award for his outstanding student abstract at the 54th annual meeting of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, held in Anchorage, Alaska.

Manzoni was selected as one of the three awardees based on his abstract, “Slope Stability Analysis of the Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala, Using Limit Equilibrium and Finite Element Method.” A review committee of three AEG members selected Manzoni’s abstract from more than 30 student abstracts. The fieldwork forming the basis of the research was conducted as part of the Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) project.

Published in Tech Today


New theses and dissertations available in the Library

The Graduate School is pleased to announce new theses and dissertations are now available in the J.R. van Pelt and Opie Library from the following programs:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Forest Ecology and Management
  • Geological Engineering
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Industrial Archaeology
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Researchers Connect Volcanic Activity to Mini-Earthquakes

The ash from the recent eruptions of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle in Chile has disrupted airplane schedules, even circling the globe a second time to cause more delays recently. A Michigan Tech researcher and his graduate students are studying how these volcanoes erupt and what their relation is to earthquakes. They hope to resolve much bigger issues than airplane inconveniences.

Assistant Professor Greg Waite (GMES) is focusing on “mini-earthquakes” within or beneath the troublesome Villarrica volcano. These earthquakes reveal details about the shape of the conduit and dynamics of the magmatic system.

“The seismic data suggest the conduit becomes a planar dike at a relatively shallow depth,” he says. Graduate student Josh Richardson (GMES) has studied those “spaghetti splatters”: the mini-earthquakes at Villarrica.  “He recorded some 19,000 mini-quakes over the course of about a week on a recent field trip,” Waite says. These events are very subtle and cannot be simply identified without careful analysis. “We think they are from the small expansions and contractions in the conduit.”

Waite and his students’ conduit-model work has produced another interesting result at Fuego volcano in Guatemala. Recent PhD graduate John Lyons (GMES) discovered that, instead of the magma simply moving vertically up the conduit from a deeper magma chamber, there is a kink–an “elbow in the conduit, a corner in the geometry”–a couple hundred meters below the surface.

See Tech Today for the complete news story.


New theses and dissertations available in the Library

The Graduate School is pleased to announce new theses and dissertations are now available in the J.R. van Pelt and Opie Library from the following programs:

  • Applied Natural Resource Economics
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology
  • Forestry
  • Geology
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Rhetoric and Technical Communication