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PhD Candidate Emily Wolin Featured in NOVA Documentary

December 1, 2015

Making North America” is the new Nova documentary that tells it all, from the 4.5 billion year old Precambrian granite in the walls of a Minnesota café to the 15 thousand year old glacial striations of the most recent ice age on a rock in New York’s Central Park.  Some time in between, about one billion years ago, is a geological period of millions of years in which earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were normal throughout what is now Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. This tectonic activity was symptomatic of the Earth’s attempt to split North America roughly along the northern branch of the modern Mississippi River. Around two million cubic km of lava rose up to the crust, which is a volume of lava greater than 20 times the volume of water now in the Great Lakes, and similar in volume to the amount needed to form the crust for a sea the size of the Gulf of California. In “Making North America: Origins”, Emily Wolin demonstrates how seismology is used to investigate and image the Earth’s interior structure beneath these lava deposits, named the “Mid-continent Rift”.      

Emily has been a critical participant in an EarthScope seismic experiment (SPREE) that acquired seismic data along and across the lava deposits between 2011 and 2013 under the leadership of Prof. Suzan van der Lee from Northwestern University, who is also Emily’s faculty advisor.  Emily will present her exciting findings from the analysis of this data at her Ph.D. defense in December, 2015, after which she looks forward to developing seismological arrays at remote locations globally and revealing more of the Earth’s hidden secrets that may be buried deep beneath the surface.

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