Rebecca Butler: Seismic Hazard Mapping





About Me:

I am a junior at Seattle Pacific University majoring in Mathematics and Physics and minoring in Biology. I am also in the University Scholar’s program. I am the President of the Society of Physics Students and am a learning assistant for the introductory physics sequence. In my free time I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and exploring the Seattle area. In the future I hope to obtain a PhD in either pure mathematics.

Project Description:

This quarter I will be developing methods to model tsunami inundation. I will do this using ArcGIS. This map will visually show which areas of Las Ventanas, Chile which have a higher chance of flooding in the event of a tsunami.

Week 1:

This week I met with my mentors and learned more about the details about my project. I have been reading technical articles on seismic hazard analysis and seismic hazard mapping. I was also introduced to LaTeX, OpenQuake, and OpenQuake. This week we attended sessions on writing research papers, using Adobe Premiere, and using Camtasia. We also went on a campus tour and a tour of the Watts Innovation Center. Overall, this week was a great introduction to Clemson and the Visualization Lab.

Week 2:

This past week we have had demos with the Linux command line, the Palmetto cluster, Paraview, VMD, VisIt, CUDA, OpenRefine, Tableau, and GIS. The GIS tutorial was especially helpful for my project as this is the software I will be using to map the data obtained from OpenQuake. I don’t have a lot of experience with coding or programing, but these demos have taught me what I need to be able to do my project.

In terms of progress on my project, I downloaded the OpenQuake software and got several demos to run. I had to do quite a bit of reading in the user’s manual before I was finally able to get it to work. I also read a bunch of articles on seismic hazard and risk analysis. 

Week 3:

Our tutorials this week covered the basics of Python programming, VR and AR in Unity 3D, Visualizing world census and survey data, and LIDAR in GIS. While I won’t be working with 3D data for my project, the LIDAR seminar helped me become more familiar with GIS, which is the program I will use to map the OpenQuake data.

I wanted to get OpenQuake running this week, but there have been problems installing in on the Palmetto Cluster. While waiting for this, I have been writing the introduction to my paper and learning how to use LaTex. I have also been working to plot a small set of sample data in GIS. I should have this data plotted by Monday or Tuesday.

Week 4:

This week we only had two tutorials which covered the basics of Programming in R. While this was interesting, I won’t be using R for my project. Most of my time this week was spent getting ready for my midterm presentation. We had a rehearsal on Friday which went fairly well and helped me get more comfortable with presenting.

My project changed slightly this week. Instead of mapping seismic hazard through all of South America, I will be mapping projected tsunami inundation off the Chile over the next 200 years. The basic process is the same as before, but with some added steps. I will still run OpenQuake to obtain the expected earthquake magnitudes and from these magnitudes I can calculate the expected tsunami wave heights. From this, I can map the expected inundation.

Week 5:

This week felt pretty short as we had Tuesday off for the 4th. I spent Mondays mostly doing presentation prep and a bit more research  on inundation modeling. On Wednesday, we had our midterm presentations. It was nice to give a presentation in the Watt conference room before the final presentation. Thursday I had a mentor meeting which really helped me get a better grasp of the scope of what I will be doing in the final three weeks.  Thursday and Friday were mostly spent writing my paper introduction, related works, and methodology. I’ve had some issues with LaTeX on my laptop, so I have just been borrowing someone else’s for now.

Week 6:

I have spent this week working with ArcMap to plot the projected inundation depth of 9 meters in Las Ventanas, Chile. The tool in ArcToolbox that would have made this process fairly simple is not installed on the GIS lab computers and the GIS staff is out of town this week at a conference, so I could not get their help with this issue, but I have sent them an email. As an alternative, I have been working in an open source program called QGIS. Instead of having smooth contours as I expected, I am getting an extremely pixelated image. I think this is because of the resolution of the digital elevation model I am using, but I cannot find one with a better resolution. I am trying to find a way to fill in the elevation contours with color, but this is still difficult in QGIS.

This week, we went on tours of the ITC Data Center and the School of Computing Labs. It was nice to see more of Clemson’s campus and some of the larger research projects currently underway. I have also been working on adding to and revising my paper.

Week 7:

This week, we attended several sessions on elevator speeches and building relationships. These sessions were helpful for thinking about how I can use this research experience to build relationships and market my abilities in future opportunities.

I spent most of this week writing my paper and working on finalizing my models. I have developed three methods to model tsunami inundation, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. I got access to the ArcMap tools I needed this week. The image still comes out pixelated when doing a raster calculation, which is because of the low resolution of the DEM. I figured out how to smooth out the contours, but I am still having trouble coloring them in ArcMap.

Week 8:

This week has been pretty busy. I have finished my paper and arranged all the images in LaTeX. I also made my presentation. We had a rehearsal on Wednesday, which went fairly well. I had to make a poster and assemble all files as well. Mostly, this week has been spent finishing up the project itself and putting together all presentation materials.

Final Report