Money and communications problems

27 August 2007 | 04:40 Code : 15086 Geoscience events
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"America is a First World country, but Ecuador is Third World, so financial....

  "America is a First World country, but Ecuador is Third World, so financial support is not strong. Setting up seismometers is an expensive process. Hundreds will be needed, but currently there are only two near Quito set up by German researchers." Ecuador, roughly the size of Nevada, has a whopping 270 volcanoes, twenty of which are active. The most active is Tungurahua, with 70 eruptions over the past 3,000 years. Buchwaldt said a second major problem is communications. "As scientists, we need to avoid the academic gobbledygook," he said. "The politicians, though, tend to dummy things down. We're seeking a communications platform that will enable us to communicate between different fields. "What happens when you get a volcanic eruption, you have excited scientists because it means data. But data mean nothing to a normal citizen sitting there while a one-mile pyroclastic flow starts streaming by." A pyroclastic flow is a very violent, destructive, gas-rich and fast-moving mass of rock flow from a volcanic vent. Imagine opening up a cola bottle and seeing the white flow of foam that accompanies that — the foam is an indication of gas separating, and that is what you have with the pyroclastic flow. Buchwaldt said that the committee has plans in effect for public meetings that will educate the citizenry and government officials, explain the dangers and develop escape plans for Quito and other communities. He made a presentation on projects there and the committee's work at a Goldschmidt Conference, held in Cologne, Germany on August 20-24, 2007. Buchwaldt is just beginning research in Ecuador, and he has projects in Madagascar and Cameroon. His main interests are geochronology, petrology, and geochemistry. "I'm interested in using well-established methods to understand the dynamics of systems, especially Earth systems," he said. "Volcanoes interest me greatly because they are very dynamic."

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