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  • Writer's pictureJesus Rodriguez

Work at home

Now that we have been working on our projects for about a whole semester, we have a more complete understanding of the work we are doing. I for one, enjoy the work that I do and I am proud to say that I am contributing to Dr. Linkimer and Dr. Arroyo's work, even though my portion is only a very technical one.

Costa Rica is a highly seismic country. There are portions of the earth underneath the surface that move in interesting and unpredictable ways. The unusual forces that take place beneath the ground cause hundreds of tiny earthquakes each year, strange land formations, and unusually high elevation in some regions of Costa Rica. The primary purpose of my research is to uncover the secret forces from below and unravel the mystery of why Costa Rica experiences these phenomena.

There are currently two leading models and the work I'm doing will either prove or disprove one or both of the models. That's the goal, at least. We are doing this by collecting data from the seismic stations planted all around Costa Rica, determining certain properties of the incoming wave (such as, did the wave move up or down when it first arrived), and then compiling the information from the different sensors to locate the earthquake and build a focal mechanism. A focal mechanism is a representation of how the earth moved at the moment of the earthquake. These two attributes, position and focal mechanism, together tell us where the earthquake happened and what the forces there look like. If you plot several focal mechanisms together on a map, you suddenly get a general picture of what the interior forces throughout Costa Rica look like.

A map of located Earthquakes

The wave detected (notice that the wave came in with a (D)own orientation)

An example Focal Mechanism - There are two axes, a compression axis and an expansion axis, this tells us which way is the pull and which way is the push of the force

Example of some focal mechanisms mapped together

Hopefully, the work that I have put into this will help contribute to my mentors' research. It is important to understand what is going on underneath the country. It is not just a matter of academic understanding; earthquakes are a part of every Costa Ricans' life and sometimes these phenomena pose a threat to the citizens of the country. I have faith that with enough understanding, we can predict earthquakes and the potential threat that they pose in the every day life of Costa Ricans.

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