When an earthquake shakes the ground in a country thousands of miles away, college students in Augusta will be watching closely.
The National Science Foundation awarded Augusta State University Associate Professor of Physics Christian Poppeliers a $78,000 grant Friday for seismic data collection and analysis.
Poppeliers and four undergraduate students will plant about 15 seismometers around Augusta to find out how an earthquake’s waves partition as they travel through Earth and how the arrangements of the instruments in the ground affect the accuracy of the measurements.
The study will last two years and will collect data from regional and international earthquakes felt in the area.
“(Students) will get to do a real-life science project rather than just sit in the classroom and say ‘This is what could happen,’ ” Poppeliers said. “This is an open question, so they’ll actually get to see how real science is done.”
Poppeliers said the concept of how various instruments measure and record waves together is somewhat unexplored. The group will plant about seven instruments in soft, thick sand sediments near the Savannah River and the rest on a flat field with bedrock in Edgefield County.
The test is to see how to best place the instruments to get the most accurate measurements.
“We will be experimenting with different seismometer spacings and geometries,” Poppeliers said.
Besides the hands-on experience, students will also get the benefit of a summer paycheck. Students selected to participate will be paid about $2,000, funded by the grant.
“They’ll be getting a lot out of it,” Poppeliers said.