Right: Dr. Philip Kyle demonstrates why any right-thinking science teacher would want to go to Antarctica.
by Thomas Guengerich
SOCORRO, N.M., May 14, 2008 – One adventurous science teacher will get to take an intense and frigid field trip this year.
New Mexico Tech is offering a unique opportunity for a middle or high school teacher to join a research team working on Mount Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica, in November and December 2008.
The Department of Earth and Environmental Science at New Mexico Tech organizes an Antarctic expedition every year with funding from the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation.
It will be “summer” in the southern hemisphere, but still plenty cold on the southernmost continent, especially atop the 12,450-foot volcano.
The lucky teacher will coordinate and lead public and education outreach efforts directed to middle and high school students. The teacher will participate in all aspects of the project, which includes six to eight weeks of physically demanding fieldwork in Antarctica.
Left: Philip Kyle having fun in Antarctica.
Geochemistry professor Dr. Philip Kyle said this year’s research project will study the “plumbing” below the lake of lava in the volcano’s crater. The team will plant 150 seismometers around the volcano, then set off no less than 15 explosive “shots.” By examining the shockwaves from the explosives, researchers will produce an image of the interior of the volcano, Kyle said.
“It’s like we’re giving the volcano a CAT scan,” Kyle said. “We’re using geophysical methods to view the plumbing that feeds the lake – where is it, how big is it and how is it related to the ongoing activity of the volcano.”
The teacher will join a team of about a dozen researchers and support staff from New Mexico Tech that will complete the mission.
“The teacher will help deploy the seismometers and will get to see all sorts of life on an active volcano,” Kyle said. “It’s a thrilling place to be.”
Mount Erebus is an active volcano, whose eruptions are not hazardous. The volcano’s signature feature is the lake of lava which serves as a window into the mountain’s innards.
This season’s expedition will be Kyle’s 37th year in Antarctica studying Mount Erebus, which he called “a scientific toy” that serves as a model of how volcanoes work. Over the years, more than 20 graduate students from New Mexico Tech have based their theses on research at the volcano.
Tech will cover all expenses, including travel to Antarctica, travel to Tech for preliminary training and the cost of a substitute teacher for the teacher’s school, as well as the expense for an extensive medical and dental examination.
– NMT –