Summer program participants of LSU GAEMP (Geoscience
Alliance to Improve Minority Participation) are non-traditional, STEM
(science, technology, engineering, or math), underrepresented minorities
from 9 Minority-Serving Institutions in the states of Louisiana, Texas
and Mississippi. During this summer of 2004, twelve students completed a
six-week field and lab program across the lower U.S.A. Because of the
urban background of many of the participants one three-day module on
earthquakes and earth deformation emphasized the design of a
non-conventional seismic experiment, field acquisition and analysis of
data in an urban setting.
Day one introduced stress, major fault types and their plate tectonic
setting based on a case study of active growth faulting, emphasizing its
effects on urban planning. Students visited the field to verify the
location of faults from prior interpretations using GPS and topographic
maps, and to discuss observed faulted buildings, offices and roadways.
Later, students were exposed to the principles of active seismology,
divided into six working groups and required to design by the next
morning a realistic experiment to verify faults in the shallow
Day two was dedicated to collecting shallow (<300m) shear-wave
seismic refraction data from both sides of a suspected growth fault,
with the student expectation that a thicker sediment sequence would be
observed on the down-thrown block.
Day three involved pencil-and-paper analyses of data for
reflection and refraction-thickness and velocity estimation, capped with
a discussion and formal oral presentations of group results. The
student-led design, active field deployment of equipment and formal
discussion groups provided the widest range of activities to promote
awareness of the relevance of seismology in modern society.