Episode 143: Building a Volcano Early Warning System – A GWB Story

Pico de Orizaba is the highest volcano in Mexico and preserves a glacier at the top. The volcano is an old structure and has experienced several cone collapses and subsequent rebuilds in its eruptive history of fewer than 600,000 years.

Thinking about the potential threat to villages located along the major river drainages, Drs. Katrin Sieron and Blake Weissling submitted a Geoscientists without Borders (GWB) proposal to monitor precipitation at altitudes over 4000 meters above sea level and to better characterize the lahar forming zone at the proglacial ramp. They also wanted to work on lahar (mud or debris flows) detection and monitoring and create a lahar-warning system for local habitants.

More than 15 students were involved during the project execution, several of whom worked on virtually supported thesis proposals (geomorphology, hydrology, glacier modeling, lahar modeling, vulnerability studies, etc). GWB granted the project a one-year, no-cost extension, making it possible to finish the project.

This episode features Katrin and Blake providing an overview of their project, discussing what they accomplished in Mexico, and reflecting on the legacy of their work.

Seismic Soundoff · 143: Building a Volcano Early Warning System – A GWB Story

To honor and celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), the SEG Women’s Network and Geoscientists without Borders® (GWB) are holding a joint event highlighting some of the efforts that women geoscientists are leading that contribute to a sustainable society, as well as making a positive impact in communities around the world.

The theme of the celebration is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” This event will feature two GWB Project Leads, Katrin Sieron and Patricia Persaud, who will present on their respective projects: “Monitoring the 5,636 m high Pico de Orizaba volcano (Mexico) – achievements and challenges” and “Breaking New Ground: An Earthquake Hazard Project in Myanmar.

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Katrin Sieron is a geologist (MSc) and volcanologist (Ph.D.) academically trained in Germany, Canada, and Mexico. She holds a permanent researcher position at the Center of Earth Sciences at the Veracruz University (Mexico). Sieron has published in several indexed and dissemination journals, apart from numerous technical reports and outreach-related works. She has been a member of the Mexican National System of Researchers (SNI) since 2014 and participated in multiple national and international research projects, of which she led three. She is a member of the Seismological and Volcanological Observatory of Veracruz State (Mexico) and has presented her work at more than 20 international conferences.

Dr. Blake Weissling is an Assistant Professor in Practice at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His areas of specialization include cryosphere, remote sensing, and surface water hydrology.

About Geoscientists without Borders

Geoscientists without Borders serves as a catalyst bringing capable scientists together with communities to solve their problems. The program provides funding for these projects and assists geoscientists and their teams in collaborating with multidisciplinary and community-based partners. Data is collected, processed, and interpreted to provide resources that result in a sustainable humanitarian benefit to the community.

Geoscientists have the tools necessary to effect positive change in communities coping with environmental hardships and natural hazards. Many places around the globe facing severe water shortages, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other hazards have benefited from the humanitarian efforts of geoscientists who have offered their specialized knowledge and technical skills to those in need.


This episode is sponsored by

As the leading innovator and manufacturer of wireless seismic data acquisition systems, Geospace Technologies offers a series of seabed, wireless seismic data acquisition systems designed for extended-duration seabed seismic data acquisition.

Geospace is committed to setting new standards for quality, performance, reliability and cost savings to E&P companies and marine geophysical contractors.


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Original music created by Zach Bridges. This episode was hosted, edited, and produced by Andrew Geary at 51 features, LLC. Special thanks to Pallavi Bharadwaj for her support on this episode. Thank you to the SEG podcast team: Jennifer Cobb, Kathy Gamble, and Ally McGinnis.

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