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Michigan Technological University

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building

1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI  44931-1295  

phone: 906.487.2531  fax: 906.487.3371



Updated Sept 2009


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DEFENSE  06/08 Jill Bruning, advised by Dr. Gierke, defended her master’s thesis on June 13th, 2008. Her thesis is entitled “A Digital Processing and Data Compilation Approach for using Remotely Sensed Imagery to Identify Geological Lineaments in Hard Rock Terrains: An Application for Groundwater Exploration in Nicaragua.” More on her work can be found at her website.


DEFENSE  06/08 Kelly Durst defended her master’s thesis entitled “Erupted Magma Volume Estimates at Santiaguito and Pacaya Volcanoes, Guatemala using Digital Elevation Models” on June 4, 2008. She worked with Dr. Rose, and her thesis can be found on her website.

Jill Bruning defends her work on using remote sensing to detect groundwater bearing lineaments.

Results from Kelly Durst’s thesis include estimations of magma volume erupted from Guatemalan volcanoes over several decades.

REMOTE SENSING WORKSHOP  08/08 Miriam Rios-Sanchez, Kelly Durst, Carla Alonso, and Fredline Ilorme led a workshop at the XI Congreso Latinoamericano on Groundwater held in Quito Ecuador July 8-12, 2008. A coordinated effort between several of Ecuador’s ministries working in groundwater supply and Michigan Tech lead to a successful workshop for 25 Latin American’s attendees interested in locating groundwater resources using remote sensing.

(L-R) Durst, Alonso, Gross, Ilorme, Rios-Sanchez, Gierke at the XI Congreso Latinoamericano.

DEFENSE  06/08 Essa Gross, a Peace Corps Master’s International student under the direction of Dr. John Gierke defended her thesis, “A Manual Pumping Test Method for Characterizing the Productivity of Drilled Wells Equipped with Rope Pumps”. More on her work can be found on her website.



NEW POST-DOC 04/08  Dr. Jose Luis Palma, originally from Chile, joined the program in April 2008. He recently completed his PhD at the Open University in the UK and works in volcanology and seismology. His office is on the second floor—stop by and share a mate with him.

GUATEMALAN FIELD WORK 09/08 Jesse Silverman, PCMI student working in  Caserio Toajlaj, Tectitan, Guatemala has been working with  neighbors and the national forestery extension in his community to try to stabilize two gullies that are eroding into communal walkways. Erosion control entailed the construction of living and non-living fences. They are experimenting with two local varieties of clumping grasses, sacaton grande and sacaton (citaria) to test which would better prevent channelization within the gully and stabilize the rim against further back-cutting.

MASTERS INTERNATIONAL 09/08 Julie Herrick, a PCMI student serving in Panama, has begun an investigation of the debris avalanche of Volcan Baru. Several locations have been identified for future visits and work will continue after the aerial photos have been printed. Resources from Instituto Geografico Nacional and Universidad de Panama are making it possible to plan traverses that will cross the avalanche area with efficiency. More on her work as a student and as a Peace Corps Volunteer can be found on her blog.

Jesse works with locals from the community of Caserio Toajlaj in building live fences to slow soil erosion.

Julie begins work with several Panamanian institutions in characterizing a debris avalanche on Volcan Baru.

DEFENSES 12/08 & 01/09 Anna Colvin and York Lewis recently defended on campus. Colvin’s master’s research focused on the characterization of eruption hazards of Santa Ana volcano, El Salvador. She studied precursors and triggering mechanisms and post-eruption effects on the volcano’s crater lake and fumaroles. Lewis investigated the regional environmental factors that cause landslides in Northern El Salvador. While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, he collaborated with local institutions to improve local and national governments’ efforts in developing hazard prevention programs.

(L) York Lewis working in El Salvador.   (R) Anna Colvin rests during field work in the Santa Ana caldera.