Donna Shillington, Author at State of the Planet

Mapping Faults Hidden below Lake Malawi

Marine seismic studies like ours are routinely done in the oceans using scientific equipment and research vessels outfitted specially for these purposes. Collecting comparable data in a great lake in Africa requires creative repurposing of available vessels and adaption of scientific equipment.

by |March 26, 2015

Seismology as Performance Art

Ideally, seismic stations are sited in remote, quiet locations. But other considerations are important for a good station, particularly security. As a result, we placed most of our stations in towns near schools, hospitals or town halls, where people could keep an eye on them.

by |August 14, 2013

Surface Views of the Southern East Africa Rift Inspire a Look Underground

Driving around the Rungwe volcanic province in the southern East Africa Rift installing seismometers, we have the chance to observe first hand how geological processes in action create the most dramatic forms at Earth’s surface.

by |August 12, 2013

Imaging beneath the southernmost volcanoes in the East Africa Rift

The last time we visited the southern part of the East Africa Rift, we were responding to an unusual series of earthquakes in December 2009 that shook northern Malawi. This time, we return to this part of the rift system as a part of a more comprehensive effort to understand the underpinnings of this continental rift.

by |August 4, 2013

Returning From Sea to Dutch Harbor

At 6:30 am on August 5, the R/V Langseth pulled into port in Dutch Harbor, marking the end of our very successful research cruise. Our steam into port from our study area involved a trip through Unimak pass and beautiful views of Aleutian volcanoes, including majestic Shishaldin. Many things are required to make a research… read more

by |August 8, 2011

Swimming in Data Offshore Alaska

Although we still have ~3 days of data collection aboard the R/V Langseth to go before we pull in our equipment and head for port, we are already drowning in beautiful seismic data. Following each pulse from the air gun array, the two 8-km-long streamers listen for returning sound waves for 22 seconds. This is… read more

by |July 31, 2011

Boring Days at Sea are a Blessing

For the last nine days, we have been underway acquiring seismic reflection data to study a plate tectonic boundary offshore Alaska with the R/V Marcus G. Langseth. Now that the initial excitement of deploying all of our seismic gear and watching the first sound waves arrive on our two 8-km-long streamers has faded, we have… read more

by |July 24, 2011

Collecting Data Offshore Alaska, But Just Barely

One of the core objectives of our project is to image the part of the plate tectonic boundary that locks up and then ruptures to produce great earthquakes. To examine deep parts of the interface between the Pacific plate and the North American plate in the Aleutian subduction zone, we need to go as close to the coast as possible. This is easier said than done.

by |July 18, 2011

Unspooling Miles of Seismic Streamer Near the Shumagin Islands

On July 11, we marked the successful completion of the first phase of our project and embarked on the second. Part 1 involved deploying ocean bottom seismometers and recording air-gun-generated sound waves. We successfully retrieved all of the OBS’s, and the data that they recorded look very exciting at first blush (and contain some surprises!).

by |July 14, 2011

Summoning ocean bottom seismometers from the deep

After leaving our seismometers on the seafloor offshore Alaska for a few days to record sound waves generated by the air guns of the R/V Langseth, we returned to collect them. The recovery of OBS always involves a certain amount of suspense.

by |July 8, 2011