Tuesday, June 9, 2015

USGS Volcano Observatory Open House

Jasper's most favorite thing- a sand table, above which was a projector that projected a topographical map onto the sand in real time.  As the kids changed the "altitude" of the sand, the projected map changed too.  The effect was really hypnotic.
The US Geological Survey had an open house at their Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver. We'd been on a tour at NOAA's Portland bureau, and the interesting part was really what they had to say, not the offices themselves which were, mainly, offices with variously sized monitors everywhere.  So we were not prepared to have our socks knocked clean off!  These guys at the USGS get to play with a lot of cool gadgets and work with a lot of really smart people to imagine how best to learn all there is to know about volcanoes, which are seriously fascinating.  

This neato machine collects data on how sediment flows over terrain, to better understand and maybe someday actually predict  the paths of pyroclastic flows.  It was fascinating to watch.
Kids could shake the table and watch the seismograph react on the monitor.
A monitor showing a thermoimaging camera's view of the lab.
These machines are used to collect sediment from rivers.  With them they can determine how ash from Mt. St. Helens is flowing towards the sea and when rivers should be dredged to prevent flooding.
A nifty diorama which, with the addition of some dry ice, shows the suffocating effects of Africa's "exploding lakes".
This machine is a "spider", which can be dropped by helicopter near a dangerous volcanic region to gather many kinds of complex data remotely. 
Pele's hair.

1 comment:

Mama Gone Green said...

cool! wish i would have known about it!!