Yesterday, I took advantage of a 2 hour tour offered by the local Geophysical Institute up on Campus. It was awesome. One of the first facts I learned is that the state of Alaska has the most earthquakes, most active volcanoes and the longest coastline of anywhere in the United States, perhaps even in the world! That is mindboggling.
The tour started in with the Volcano observatory where we saw this really neat presentation on how they monitor volcanic activity. The guide started the presentation with the KLM flight back in 1989 that ran into the cloud of volcanic ash from Mt. Redoubt. We heard the recording, saw a simulation and he took time to explain how the jet engine worked in regard to the ash.
The next stop was at in the Earthquake lab where we learned that 82% of all earthquakes of 4.0 or higher in the United States are found in Alaska. If you look at earthquakes of 6.0 or higher, then Alaska has 90 percent of those. I found the whole presentation quite interesting and really enjoyed it.
The third stop was with the satellite people who monitor a satellite whose path is pole to pole and goes around the earth 14 times per day. The guide was telling us they created some software that helps countries decide where to send the rescuers after an earthquake.
The example he used was of the recent earthquake in Nepal. The software can help the government of Nepal tell where the hardest hit areas are because many of those areas are quite remote which can hinder rescue.
In fact, all three sections use computers to help analyze data gathered by satellites and by ground monitors so they get a more accurate picture of what is happening.
The final part of the tour was when we saw the supercomputers and other computing facilities where all the data is analyzed. It was soo cool to see all of it. This afternoon, I am off to check out Poker Flats which is where the university launches their rockets. I plan to take lots of pictures and I'll write more about some of the great things I learned during the tour later.
Note: I am going to be spending next week in the beautiful state of Hawaii both working and relaxing. I'll do a couple touristy things, go swimming, enjoy the beach all after I attend a conference.