2012 Posters on the Hill

The following posters represented the geosciences at CUR’s Posters on the Hill, April 24, 2012.

New Hampshire
STUDENT: Katie Laro
INSTITUTION: Plymouth State University
DIVISION: Geosciences
POSTER TITLE: Updating the KSC/CCAFS Warm-Season Convective Wind Climatology
ABSTRACT: My project has been to update the Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Warm-Season Convective Wind Climatology by adding information for years, 2008 through 2011, from the previous coverage of 1995 through 2007. This work involves identifying convective periods, where thunderstorms and/or other convective showers were present in the area, by reviewing radar and surface-based observations. Next, the 5-minute peak wind observations for these periods from 36 KSC/CCAFS weather towers were collected, quality controlled and analyzed for various characteristics, such wind speeds, heights at which peak winds were recorded, time of peak wind speeds, and direction from which the winds were coming. Numerous radar files were also acquired and analyzed to update the radar characteristics. Some results were further confirmation that the higher convective winds most often come from linear shaped storms and interactions with linear boundaries. Another facet, included in the study, was investigating the overall low level flow regimes on a given day for both convective and non convective days. Flow regimes are classified by the position of the subtropical ridge axis relative to Florida. The results show that there was a solid correlation between flow regimes and convective events. By adding more years of data to the overall study, results more robust and useful. The climatology is used in training of weather forecasters at CCAFS and enhances their ability to forecast convective winds, which can affect KSC/CCAFS range operations.

New York
STUDENT: Elisabeth Anne Gallant
INSTITUTION: Buffalo State College
DIVISION: Geosciences
FACULTY ADVISOR: Bettina Martinez-Hackert
POSTER TITLE: Understanding the Eruptive History of Ilamatepec
ABSTRACT: Mt. Saint Helens’ style eruptions (dangerously explosive) are typical for volcanoes abundant in the countries of Central America. In our study we began to unravel the unknown geological history of violent eruptions of El Salvador’s largest volcano, Ilamatepec (Santa Ana), that last erupted in 2005. Its immediate surroundings include the country’s major economic artery of sugarcane and coffee production, as well as the second and third largest cities of the country; a 25km radius around the volcano is home to nearly half a million people. Historical records and a few scientific inquiries indicate at least 9 moderate to large eruptions since the early 1500’s. We initiated an expedition in March 2011 to collect volcanic deposits found layered in the crater scar of Ilamatepec. Expedition participants included the volcanologists of the geological survey of El Salvador, an undergraduate student team from Buffalo State College, a graduate student from SUNY Buffalo, and the National Tourist Police of El Salvador. Data collected were analyzed using optical microscopy methods, grain size distribution techniques, and scanning electron microscopy. Analysis of a 15-layer sequence indicates a very explosive history characterized by smaller steam eruptions, moderate steam and magma eruptions, and large magmatic eruption. The information learned through this process will allow us to address the hazards that account for potential damage to infrastructure and loss of life to the Salvadoran population by applying our understanding of previous events to future eruptions. This work was conducted in conjunction with the Panamerican Institute of Geography and History.

STUDENT: Lindsey J. Bowman
INSTITUTION: The College of Wooster
DIVISION: Geosciences
POSTER TITLE: Fire and Ice: What Volcanic Relationships Observed in Sveifluhals Ridge Can Tell us About the Eyjafjallajökull Eruption
FUNDING: National Science Foundation, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences
ABSTRACT: The subglacial eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in April and May of 2010 cost the global economy almost 5 billion dollars and impacted millions of travelers. Understanding geologic natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions is very difficult, and predicting the nature or timeline of the eruptions is even more tenuous. One way to understand the dynamics of volcanic eruptions similar to Eyjafjallajökull is to study an ancient proxy. The Sveifluhals ridge in Southwest Iceland is a subglacial pillow ridge that erupted in a similar manner to Eyjafjallajökull thousands of years ago. To piece together the sequence of magmatic events that occur during a subglacial eruption, an intensive mapping and geochemical study was undertaken at Undirhlithar quarry, which exposes the interior of Sveifluhals ridge. From field observations of the quarry walls, we know that subglacial eruptions consist of multiple extrusive events, which build up the basal pillow units and are marked by stratified layers of yellow, glassy hyaloclastite material. Extrusive pillow units are cut by intrusive dikes that are mineralogically and geochemically different from the pillows. Geochemical and field relationships of the units along the quarry walls suggest a complicated sequence of eruptive and intrusive events, including pauses between eruptions and lateral transport of magma. The relationships between intrusive and extrusive events in an ancient proxy, such as those exposed at Undirhlithar quarry, can be used to reconstruct the 3-D volcanic history of a subglacially-erupted pillow ridge and could eventually help us understand subglacial volcanic dynamics in a modern setting.

South Carolina
STUDENT: Olga Tweedy
INSTITUTION: Coastal Carolina University
DIVISION: Geosciences
FACULTY ADVISOR: Varavut Limpasuvan
POSTER TITLE: Wintertime Polar Ozone Evolution during Stratospheric Vortex Break-Down
FUNDING: National Science Foundation
ABSTRACT: As envisioned by the Montreal protocol, the banning of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has contributed gradually to ozone recovery. Yet, this past winter, a record ozone loss was observed over the Arctic, resulting in an unprecedented ozone hole that is gaining much public attention. Such unusual occurrence prompts the need to understand other mechanisms that may play a role in ozone variation. In this study, the change in polar ozone is investigated when the stratospheric circumpolar flow (“polar vortex”) suddenly breaks down. Using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, the air circulation and evolution of ozone-destroying species (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and atomic oxygen) are examined in conjunction with ozone during four realistic vortex break-down events. In comparison with a typical wintertime evolution, the simulated polar ozone during these events exhibits anomalous behaviors in key maxima regions. A “primary” ozone layer (near 40 km) experiences strong fluctuation due to horizontal mixing with low-latitude air. The “tertiary” ozone maximum at 72 km is lifted 5 km by intensified transport above the weakened vortex. The “secondary” layer’s (90-110 km) concentration decreases by ~34% due to enhanced descent of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into the vortex. Unusual downwelling of ozone-destroying species permeates into the “primary” layer and potentially contributes to the spring time ozone destruction. These results highlight the impact of vortex dynamics on ozone through the transport of key chemical species. They also help us to better understand natural ozone fluctuation with respect to anthropogenic influence.


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