August 2014 Archways

In The Field

Investigating the Fault Lines

In the FieldIn 1861, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake destroyed the Argentine city of Mendoza and killed more than 6,000 people—half the city’s population at the time. Today, more than a million people live in the rebuilt city, located along the same fault line as its previous incarnation.

Over the next three years, Bryn Mawr Professor Arlo Weil, chair of the geology department, and longtime colleague Adolph Yonkee, of Weber State University, will be studying the tectonic and deformation history in the region. While the main focus of the research is to gain a better understanding of the dynamic link between tectonic subduction and mountain building, some of the collected data will be used to enhance public awareness of the regional seismic hazards.

Their research recently received a $325,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, and much of that funding will be going to support student research, both in the field and in the lab. Each year of the study, Bryn Mawr students will accompany Weil to the Andes to collect oriented samples and make field measurements that will be brought back to the Bryn Mawr paleomagnetism lab for analysis.

“This type of international fieldwork will enhance the skills and learning of the involved Bryn Mawr student through the sharing of diverse geologic experiences and exposure to different cultural backgrounds,” says Weil.

On site for three weeks this summer, geology major Christine Newville ’15 is now back at Bryn Mawr, processing and analyzing the collected samples. Her research will form the basis of her senior thesis project.

 

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