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Searching for Local and Distant Blast Events

Proposed Student Research Project

IU PEPP Summer Session, 2002

Developed by John Pokorney
Pioneer High School
Royal Center, IN

I am proposing that a few (less than 5) Pioneer High School Juniors or Seniors participate in a year-long independent study scientific research project. The selected students should have taken, or be taking concurrently, both Physics and Earth Space Science. I envision this being conducted as a Level 3 research project as enumerated by Jeff Sayers during the IU PEPP teacher workshop held during the summer of 2002. Students would be able to select their own area of research or may opt to follow a research proposal of my choosing. The focus of this research would be to study PEPP data from the Pioneer seismic station (PPPHS) as well as other PEPP stations.

My area of interest is to have students attempt to locate signals from blast events from southern Indiana quarries and/or mines. Students would need to coordinate with students at other schools in southern Indiana or with professors at Indiana University to determine when blast events have occurred. Following an event, students would need to access data files from the PPPHS seismometer. Using WinQuake, students would need to apply appropriate filtering techniques to search for the high-frequency signals associated with blast events.

Students would need time outside their regularly scheduled classes to work together. This time could occur before school, during a shared study time, or after school. It would be useful for the students to participate in the IU PEPP Student Symposium held in the fall of 2002 and again in the spring of 2003.

There are many potential limiting factors for student participation/success. Among these are the limited number of potential students (there are only about 150 Juniors and Seniors at Pioneer High School), the smaller pool of students who have taken or are taking Physics and Earth Space Science, the even smaller pool of students who have both the interest in such a research project and the free time to participate in such a project (so many of our ‘better’ students are also the ones who are involved in many of the athletic teams, musical groups, or extra-curricular activities that take place at our school).

An additional limiting factor comes from the fact that the PPPHS seismometer is significantly ‘noisy’. Also, the PPPHS seismometer is approximately 150 miles, or more, north of the many quarries in southern Indiana. Signals may not be detectable even if appropriate filtering is applied. I have thought of a couple of ways around this obstacle. First, there are several active limestone quarries in northern Indiana. There is one just at the south edge of Logansport that is only 10 miles away from the PPPHS seismometer. There is another south of Monon that is about 30 miles away, another near Delphi that is about 40 miles away and another near Kentland that is about 60 miles away. There may be additional locations that I am unaware of. It may be possible to contact these quarries to determine if they have a blast schedule. Perhaps blasts from these quarries could be detected. Another possibility, although much less desirable, would be to use data from another PEPP station in southern Indiana which is closer to the blast sites.

It would be nice if students could receive credit for their efforts, but I would need to get a ‘new’ course approved that meets one of the ‘correct’ courses on the state list of allowed courses. I’m not sure if this could be accomplished this fall. The course for credit may have to wait until next school year. Students would receive recognition for their work by participation in the IUPEPP Student Symposium in the spring. Also, students would have the opportunity to publish their work through the HASTI journal or through the Indiana Academy of Sciences.

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