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I am an 8th grade Earth Science teacher at St. John's School in Houston, TX. I have also taught 6th and 7th grade integrated science and 7th grade Life Science, but Earth Science represents my area of greatest interest, training and expertise. As an undergraduate at Colgate University I had the opportunity to work on a multidisciplinary research project in southeastern Alaska that emphasized classic geology, paleobiology, and paleoecology. As a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, I combined the fields of geology and paleotology to examine the isotopic geochemistry of 2 million year old fossil horse teeth in order to document climate change in southern California. Following my graduate work at UC Davis, I attended Rice University where I pursued my Master of Arts in Teaching and my Texas Teaching Certificate for Secondary Life and Earth Science.

The decision to become a teacher was an easy one. I have worked as a geology teaching assistant and an Outdoor Education instructor since my freshman year in college. The philosophy of the Outdoor Education program at Colgate University is ³Learn to Teach; Teach to Learn.² I was attracted to the TEA program because it offers the perfect opportunity to practice this philosophy. It will allow me to enhance my own personal learning while involving my students and colleagues in genuine field research.

As an outdoor enthusiast who has traveled in Central America and Australia, I welcome the opportunity to do research in Antarctica. While I have spent time winter camping in upstate New York, California, and Utah, Antarctica will certainly bring new meaning to the word cold!

I am excited to act as a liaison between my Antarctic research team and science enthusiasts of all ages. I welcome e-mails while I am in the field and will attempt to provide individual responses to as many messages as possible. You can reach me at I hope that you enjoy your virtual travel to Antarctica through my web page!

Mt. Erebus

Dr. Philip Kyle
New Mexico Tech
Soccoro, New Mexico

Mt. Erebus, Ross Island, Antarctica

Mt. Erebus, Antarctica, has the distinction of being the southernmost volcano, as well as one of the few continuously active volcanoes, in the world. Mt. Erebus is a stratovolcano containing a convecting lava lake in its summit cone. It is this decade-scale activity of the lava lake that interests geologists.

Mt. Erebus is called a polygenetic stratovolcano, meaning that it has experienced different eruptive stages. The initial eruptive period consisted of low-viscosity basaltic lavas that created a low, broad shield cone similar to those found in the Hawaiian Islands. More viscous lavas were erupted in a later stage and form the steeply dipping (~30º) upper slopes of the volcano. The summit caldera of Mt. Erebus contains a small, steep-sided cone made up of decomposed lava bombs and anorthoclase crystals. The active lava lake is situated within this inner cone, venting gasses and occasionally erupting lava bombs and small flows. Degassing of the underlying magma system though this lava lake emits volcanic gasses into an otherwise pristine Antarctic atmosphere.

Mt. Erebus has become a model volcano for volcanological studies due to its excellent accessibility and its small strombolian eruptions. Since the early 1970's, research has been conducted primarily by scientists in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, and the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Research sponsored by the National Science Foundation has included petrography and geophysical studies of the volcano to assess the eruptive history and nature of Mt. Erebus, monitoring of the activity and degassing behavior of the lake, and analysis of the overall impact of the volcano on both Antarctica and the global environment.

The 2003-04 field season will be a continuation of research started last year. We will be installing a new integrated surveillance instrumentation (ISI) system to complement the five existing geophysical/geodetic surveillance observatories. This system will contain a broadband seismometer, dual frequency GPS receiver, tiltmeter, and a variety of environmental sensors and associated power systems. Such equipment will enable the researchers to monitor seismic activity and measure deformation of the volcano on a minute scale throughout the year. We will also be upgrading the existing ISI stations, taking GPS measurements at sites on the flanks and summit of the volcano to supplement the continuous data collected by eight existing GPS units, and collecting volcanic rock and gas samples.

Data collected through field based GPS measurements and gas sampling, in addition to the annual monitoring of the fixed seismic stations, will allow for a better understanding of the eruptive nature of Mt. Erebus as well as shed light on the general construction of volcanoes and their impact on the environment. The seismic data collected in the field and monitored year-round from the ISI stations can be inverted to create a topographic image of the magma chamber and conduits inside the volcano, helping to understand how magma and gas slugs move through volcanic systems. Measurement of the emission rates of CO2, SO2, and trace gasses and metals, on the other hand, can be used to evaluate the potential impact of volcanic activity on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Developing models of the internal plumbing and eruptive nature and the effects of eruptions on the environment for a volcano like Erebus goes a long way in helping scientists to better understand other volcanoes around the world. The information gained from the continued studies on Mt. Erebus is made public at the Mt. Erebus Volcanic Observatory (MEVO) website at http://www.ees.nmt.edu/Geop/Erebus/erebus.html

Be sure to check out the images in the journal entries!

18 December, 2003:

The Adventure Continues

16 December, 2003:

A Bittersweet End

14 December, 2003:

Return to MacZ

13 December, 2003:

McMurdo (Waiting) Revisited

12 December, 2003:

Remote Gas Sampling

11 December, 2003:


10 December, 2003:

Ray’s Seismic Station

9 December, 2003:

The Side Crater

8 December, 2003:

The Pump Station

7 December, 2003:

Ray’s Gully

6 December, 2003:

Lower Erebus Hut

5 December, 2003:

Climbing Fang Ridge

4 December, 2003:

And We’re Off…

3 December, 2003:

Digging Out

2 December, 2003:

Condition ONE!

30 November, 2003:

Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition and the Amundsen-Scott Race
29 November, 2003:

Heroic Age of Exploration – Scott’s Discovery
28 November, 2003:

A No-Go for Fang Camp

27 November, 2003:

And Waiting….

25 November, 2003:

Still Waiting

24 November, 2003:

Hurry Up to Wait

23 November, 2003:

Penguin Parade

22 November, 2003:

Into the Great White

21 November, 2003:

Living at High Altitude

20 November, 2003:

Feeding Frenzy

19 November, 2003:

Happy Campers?

18 November, 2003:

Happy Camper School

17 November, 2003:

High Flying Adventure

16 November, 2003:

Gearing Up for the Ice

13 October, 2003:

Principal Investigator: Dr. Philip Kyle, New Mexico

7 August, 2002:

Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn

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