Geo Girls at Mount St. Helens 2015

Another front page article

The Columbian wrote a great piece featuring many of the GeoGirls plus interviews with scientists and other volunteers involved. Check it out here:


GeoGirls are famous!

On Thursday, we had several journalists stop by for a few hours, including a tv crew, two newspapers, as well as a phone call with a local radio show. We made the front page of the Daily News in Longview! Here is a link to that article.

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We also had some tv stars appear on Channel 2 News in Portland, here is the link.

We’ll post with new links once other articles appear.



We Got a Flat!

We were on our way to USGS from Cold Water, where we spent the night, and all of a sudden the car started making an awful noise. As Cat pulled over us girls wondered what was going on. Everyone got out of the car and walked over to the side of the car to find a flat tire. The gash in the tire didn’t look very promising. Kate, the lady who made all of this possible, pulled over to help us. We tried and tried but we just couldn’t get the tire off. We were about to call someone for help but thanks to Kayden, a camper, she was waving at the cars and seeing how many would honk at her. One of the trucks that drove by was a tow truck. He didn’t stop instantly. We girls walked over to the van to see if it was fixed. As we looked back, the truck driver pulled up to where our car was. An older man hopped out of the truck and walked over to us. “Is everything ok?” the man said. After Cat explained everything he went to grab our spare but guess what? It was also flat. The man pumped up our spare and put it on the car. So we want to give Bob, the truck driver, a very special thanks for helping us when he didn’t have to.

Contributed by the Lava Roses

Coldwater Lake Testing

Today, the normal groups that we had been working in for the past week got split up and put into new groups. Ivy and Kayden went to go work on seismology with Kate, where they looked at data from different seismometers that they had set out earlier. Hailee and Dana went to go work on photogrammetry with Michelle. I, Melody, went to go look at sedimentary deposits at Coldwater Lake with Kate and Cynthia. First, we got out some of the water quality probes that they had brought with them and worked on learning how to use them. Kate and Cynthia had set out two beakers full of water, and each group member was able to put their probes in the water and measure and record the pH, conductivity, and temperature of the water. After everybody had taken their measurements, Kate and Cynthia added 10 mL of conductivity standard KCl solution to the water. Again, we took and recorded measurements with the probes. We repeated this once more, adding 20mL more of KCl solution to each beaker. Each person shared what they had recorded, and we observed the differences in measurement between each probe. Even though they were all the same brand and model of probe, each had significantly different measurements of the same solution. This exercise taught us how to use these water quality probes, as well as teach us the importance of being consistent in which probe you use when taking actual measurements.

After we had done this, we got in the cars and went down to Coldwater Lake. We went down Birth of a Lake trail, during which Kate and Cynthia (as well as the interpretive signs) gave us the history of how the lake formed. Before the eruption, Coldwater Lake did not exist. Instead, there was just Coldwater Creek. However, after the eruption, the debris landslide blocked off this previously small creek and acted like a dam. Over time, the creek water (and rain water) accumulated to form the lake that exists today. After going along the boardwalk and looking at the lake and noticing the details that pointed to its formation, we went down to the shore with some of Kate’s equipment for analyzing sediment size and distribution. Once we had gotten there, we took some sediment samples (shovels full of dirt from the shore) and put them through layers of sieves to separate them into different groups of particle size. We then weighed the total sediment that had gone through the sieves as well as each individual group of sizes. From this, we made an approximate size distribution map of the sediment along the shore. Even though it was hardly accurate, it was a good experience to learn more about how scientists conduct experiments to learn more about the past and current states of streams and bodies of water.

Contributed by the Lava Roses

Learning Photogrammetry

On Wednesday, 8/6/15, Hailee, Angela, Paris, Dana and learned from Angie how to use simple photographs of things like Mt St Helens and turn them into detailed 3D images. Scientists like Angie have used Photogrammetry over the years to view how the mountain is changing and the glacier is moving, but this technique is used for other things like mining applications and rivers courses changing. Even police use photogrammetry to construct a 3D image of a crime scene so they can later reference and measure points in the crime scene even if it is changed. Because this science doesn’t require too much fancy equipment besides a camera and a algorithm you can find for free its very popular in less developed countries that can’t afford fancy laser technology. This technique has improved greatly over the years evolving from having to handpick points were two images points overlap to create clusters of hundreds of points from thousands of pictures. Today we used 130 pictures Angie took last week to create our very own 3D model of the mountain. The steps are to download the images, orient them to the surface, let the algorithm find all the points, and then create a DEM which connects the points into a surface. We learned it is always important to double check the computers work to mask sure it is putting the points in the right place.

After we learned how to make 3D images of the mountain we took our own pictures to create 3D images of our faces. This taught us just how hard it can be to get the necessary photos and overlap to create a detailed 3D image. Here are some examples:

danafacepic TarynFacePhoto

Seismic Activity Monitoring

¬†Thursday August 6th– Today things ran slightly differently and the groups were split up to do different activities with new people. We were chosen to work on a seismic activity monitoring lab along the highway. At the start of the morning we searched for good spots along the shoulders of the highway where the ground wasn’t too loose or rocky so that the equipment could be properly coupled with the ground, this prevents the magnet spring mechanism from rattling around in the ground and corrupting the data. We planted three seismographs at different locations and recorded their coordinates, elevation, serial number, and named them. Three hours later we returned to the sites to unearth them and bring them back to the Coldwater Center. After attaching the many chords and organizing the power box, which was very difficult, Kat a seismograph expert helped us pull the data off the seismographs. We split into two groups then, one analyzed data from the seismographs from along the Pumice Plain trail and the other looked at the data we had gathered that day from the cars going along the highway. We were able to identify the range of cars that had gone by based on the disturbances they made. By dividing the distance between seismographs JVL and LOL and then multiplying by 3600 to get into hours and changing it into miles from kilometers we were able to see the speed of the cars going by. The third seismograph, FOB, had been unsuccessfully coupled with the loose dirt and its data was obscured. The second group looked through the data from the pumice plain trying to find an earthquake within the readings that had happened since it was activated.

Seismogram of cars passing our seismometers
Spectrograms of rockfall we recorded

LiDAR and Landslides

Our day with the LiDAR was fascinating because we had permission to hike off trail when a lot of other people never get the chance to do that. We learned that there were 160 ponds and 640 hummocks that formed after the eruption. Our first off trail mission was to sketch a landslide area, then we hiked to the Toutle River and set up many fun and expensive instruments. Today on the hike we scanned the hummocks and got scanned by a LiDAR laser that made a 3D image. The LiDAR made the 3D images by shooting lasers around the Toutle River and then taking pictures. Using a different laser technique we were able to calculate the distance to objects. We used a program to put the images together to create the 3D image. Back at Coldwater we listened to a presentation from Mike, saying that with the 3D images they could filter out the trees so that he could see more of the ground. They used LiDAR to get the location of all the pictures they take for google maps, for when you go to street view.

While the laser scanned the area for three minutes we had to stand still and not move. The LiDAR couldn’t scan behind some objects and that’s where the giant black shadow comes from.
Another view of us trying to stand still for three minutes while the LiDAR scanned us.
The whole area we were at; it was call Toutle River.
The scale on the right side shows the intensity of the photo and what the intensity means. The colors on the scale correspond with the colors in the photo.

Tephra outcrops

Today we learned all sorts of fun things about outcrops. We looked at some ash fall remnants, tephra, that came from about 1469. We figured out that the wind was blowing east on the day of the eruption and we got to know an amazing geologist that specializes in tephra, Heather Wright.

She taught us about the different layers, when they erupted and how strong the eruptions were when they occurred. We found a site that the tephra wall was 1 meter tall. It was extraordinary. She was a very experienced scientist and explained things very well. She goes all over the world to help people with management of volcanic crises. She works with VDAP. We were very appreciative to be able to work with her this week.

Contributed by the Lava Roses

Learning about GPS

Today, 8/5/15, the Crystal Hawks learned how GPS works and why it’s important to geologists. First we hiked around and tracked down seismometers mentors had placed the other day with handheld GPS’s. Then we actually set up a check for a set mark on the ridge. This mark doesn’t have a fancy monitoring station but instead relies on geologist checking on its movement every now and then. While we were setting up the GPS station it was fascinating how many little things you had to do to make it work. The best thing that I did today overall was sliding down a steep hill of pumice. One of the many reasons that geologist use GPS to monitor volcanoes is to track the slightest movements in the ground. Something really cool was how we got to go off the trails and see things most people don’t get to. Plus, the GPS could find all of the satellites that were so far away in seconds. We found it interesting how there were many stations that the USGS could monitor 24/7.

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