“In geology, we often go on field trips where we may have 30 students camping out, exploring the rocks by day. Then everyone gathers at night around the campfire while the professor tells a story of the rocks’ origins. When you're an undergraduate student, you're still seeing things from the perspective of, ‘This is a brown rock; this is a red rock.’ But your mental scale changes when you hear how 1.2 billion years ago there was a rift system with basalt pouring out, and suddenly a collision from the east shut off the rift. This shift in understanding is vital to studying geology.
A lot of people come to geology from a different STEM background: physics, engineering, math, or chemistry. But to hold in your hand a physical manifestation of those disciplines in the form of a rock makes those concepts—that seem so abstract in a freshman physics class—suddenly extremely tangible.”
Rob Porritt is a postdoc at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics. EarthScope’s USArray data was important to his early career, which has matured into his current research focus on increasing the resolution of global tomographic models.
Porritt attended the February 2017 EarthScope Synthesis Workshop on the structural and tectonic evolution of the southern margin of North America.
-by Sara Tewksbury