NM Tech Undergrad To Assist with Field Study in Antarctica, Oct. 18, 2005

by Shawna Carter

SOCORRO, N.M., Oct. 18, 2005 — New Mexico Tech undergrad Kyle Jones will soon be packing his luggage with some of his warmest clothes, since he will be assisting Tech geology professors Philip Kyle and Bill McIntosh later this fall semester in a National Science Foundation-sponsored geologic field study of Mount Erebus in Antarctica.

Jones, a junior at the state-supported research university in Socorro, says he has had a fascination with volcanoes and related geological topics ever since Professor Kyle came to speak about volcanoes at the local IMAX Theater in Alamogordo. Jones was in elementary school at the time.

At the end of Kyle’s talk, Jones had an opportunity to speak with the Tech volcanologist about his own budding interest in volcanoes. Kyle gave Jones a business card, and they kept in long-distance contact up until Jones graduated high school early and began attending New Mexico Tech.

When he arrived at Tech, Jones was delighted to find out that the Earth and Environmental Science Department had an open position for him as a research assistant.

Since then, Jones has had the opportunity to assist in many aspects of geologic research, including managing the data archives which help organize the massive amount of data that New Mexico Tech researchers have collected from Mt. Erebus.

While in Antarctica, Jones will have further opportunities to attain hands-on research experience, replacing equipment and collecting data. One of the tasks the New Mexico Tech research team plans on accomplishing while on-site at Mount Erebus will be the replacement and expansion of infrasonic microphones around what is the southernmost active volcano in the world and its surrounding areas.

“Infrasonic microphones record the sound waves produced when a volcano erupts,” Jones says. “The data from these microphones can be used to triangulate and pin-point an eruption’s size and source location.”

Another task Jones and his research mentors hope to accomplish while down in Antarctica is updating the existing analog video capture system to an entirely digital video collection system. Some of the equipment stationed at the Mount Erebus site has been used by New Mexico Tech researchers since the 1980s.

“The implementation of digital equipment will allow for more accurate data and better data management,” Jones says.

Jones, who will be entering his senior year at Tech at the beginning of the upcoming spring semester, says he enjoys being outdoors. His hobbies include white water rafting, as well as hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.

“I have always had a fascination with volcanoes and geophysics,” he relates.

Jones says he hopes to eventually complete a Ph.D. program and one day return to Tech as a professor. Furthermore, he says he’d like to continue working on the Mount Erebus research program.

“I am very excited about going to the site and getting some hands-on experience in volcanology,” he says.

The New Mexico Tech research team is leaving for Antarctica in mid-November. Jones will be joining them on November 28, and will return with the team in early January 2006. Once the New Mexico Tech research team is set to begin its latest “summer research season in Antarctica,”.