Getting Hands On With EarthScope

By ESNO - Spring 2016

"Wow, it's moving!" was called out frequently in the busy hall that housed the largest (and free!) national science festival. More than 365,000 people of all ages and backgrounds attended the three-day festival, geared at inspiring the modern STEM generation. The EarthScope–UNAVCO exhibit demonstrated how Earth’s moving surface—through glacial isostasy, volcano inflation, or earthquakes—undetectable to the naked eye, is captured by GPS monuments. In the booth next door, IRIS showcased how seismometers record seismic waves, from hand crank- or jump- triggered earthquakes. IRIS also provided an interactive earthquake browser, and printed out BirthQuake certificates to emphasize continuous earthquake monitoring. People of all ages were astounded by how frequent earthquakes are.   

In Alaska, EarthScope takes advantage of team sports to reach students from rural communities. Ten days after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck near Anchorage, the Nicolaevsk Warriors, from a community just 60 miles east of the epicenter, visited ESNO headquarters at University of Alaska Fairbanks. They saw first-hand how stations near their school monitored the ground movements in the Kenai Peninsula during the earthquake, and how seismic waves spread out over hundreds of miles. Regular earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and Arctic responses to climate change make Alaska a rich environment to develop and communicate the EarthScope educational motto: Science in action! Through hands-on educational programs and events, as well as this newsletter, the website, and social media, the EarthScope National Office participates in science and outreach across the country. We welcome input on how we can improve on these efforts.

Nikolaevsk students learn about real-time earthquake data while visiting the Alaska Earthquake Center
Nikolaevsk students learned about real-time earthquake data and how GPS can be used to monitor volcanoes while visiting the Geological Institute, UAF.

Top picture: Two budding scientists discover how EarthScope instruments measure ground motion, in a hands-on display at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. in April. The setup demonstrates how different kinds of instruments measure volcano inflation and deflation. (Photo by ESNO)