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Jake Anderson Seminar

October 18 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm MDT

Do-It-Yourself Instrumentation in Geoscience and Applications to Earthquake and Fluvial Acoustics

Bio: I’m a geophysicist with diverse interests in Earth/environmental sciences and instrumentation engineering. As an undergrad at UNC-Chapel Hill studying Environmental Geology and Math, experiences with scientific programming and fieldwork got me interested in new combinations of field and computational methods. This interest was fulfilled in my 2013 MS at New Mexico Tech (joint inversion of thunder and radio pulses for sound power distribution in lightning) and 2018 PhD at Boise State (modeling nonlinear volcanic shock wave propagation and tephra dispersal from explosive eruptions, and development of a new infrasound logger). In my current role as assistant research professor, I conduct and support innovative research in geophysical/environmental acoustics and other fields by developing custom instrumentation, field methods, and analyses. I also teach 400/500-level Geoscience Instrumentation, and previously taught Digital Signal Processing and Geology Field Camp.

Abstract: In many branches of geoscience, characteristics of field instrumentation like cost, power requirements, durability, portability, and difficulty of use limit the quality and quantity of data that researchers can work with. When commercially available instruments are inadequate for their research objective, scientists can benefit by creating custom devices and even disseminating their creations to others in the field. In this talk, I discuss the process and outcomes of creating my own custom field instrument: a low-cost, low-power, quick-deploy acoustic logger that was intended for volcanic shock wave recording but ended up facilitating diverse projects at BSU and elsewhere. In one subsequent project facilitated by this device, I found that the extremely messy acoustic wavefields produced by earthquakes in central Idaho can be resolved well by recording large numbers of sensors and analyzing data with an advanced beamforming technique. Another project (still in progress) deals with acoustics of whitewater features in rivers; we have so far found that at some sites whitewater sounds serve as a useful proxy for stream discharge while avoiding complications faced by traditional in-stream gauges. As shown by these case studies, innovations in instruments can support innovations in fieldwork and subsequent analyses, leading to previously impractical scientific outcomes.

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