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Sophomore Seminars

Predicting Volcanic Eruptions

3 UNITS |Grade Option: CR/NC Option
Preference given to students with freshman math, physics, or earth-science experience.
Instructor(s): Paul Segall

Volcanoes represent spectacular manifestations of the earth's internal energy and a tremendous hazard to society. In the past few decades, earth scientists have learned how to better forecast eruptive activity by monitoring seismic activity, uplift of the ground surface, and discharge of volcanic gases as well as by studying deposits from past eruptions. This course will cover topics such as the physics and chemistry of volcanic processes, methods for volcano monitoring, and the political and economic challenges of predicting future volcanic behavior. The course will conclude with a field trip to Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington that was the site of a devastating eruption in 1980.

Paul Segall, a professor of geophysics, has taught at Stanford since 1989. He conducts research on earthquake faulting and volcanism. He and his students use the Global Positioning System and Synthetic Aperture Radar to measure small changes in the motion of the earth's crust. Areas monitored include the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, the Long Valley Caldera in California, and the San Andreas fault system in the western United States. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and a member of the Geological Society of America. In 1990, he was awarded the James B. Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union.