Thursday, September 03, 2015

UTSA team to study Mexico's highest point, Pico de Orizaba

Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba, Mexico
(Photo by Blake Weissling)

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(April 20, 2010)--Research Assistant Professor Blake Weissling in the UTSA Department of Geological Sciences is getting a first-hand look at one of the only pieces of glacial ice left in the tropical northern hemisphere.

Weissling and Michael Lewis, a doctoral candidate in environmental science and engineering, are teaming up with colleagues from Southwest Research Institute and the University of Veracruz to study Pico de Orizaba's summit glacier on a research expedition April 17-25. They are funded, in part, by a fellowship from the UTSA Mexico Center through a program that encourages joint faculty/student research and collaboration between UTSA and researchers in Mexico.

Sitting at 18,490 feet, Pico de Orizaba is Mexico's highest point and the third highest peak in North America. The dormant volcano is part of the Eje Volcanico Transversal mountain range, situated due east of Mexico City on the border between Veracruz and Puebla.

While in Mexico, Weissling and Lewis's team will take measurements to determine the glacier's current area and mass. They will use GPS to map the edges of the glacier and ground penetrating radar to estimate its thickness. The radar recordings also will reveal information about the bedrock surface that lies beneath Pico de Orizaba's summit glacier.

"We know the glacier is melting, but we don't know how fast that's happening or why," said Weissling. "Is it melting due to climate change, or is it because the volcano is heating up from within? To study that, we need to know how much glacial ice is there."

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UTSA Mexico Center fellowship program

Established in October 2005, the UTSA Mexico Center is the umbrella organization that connects the university's Mexico-related experts. It is engaged in research and educational projects to promote greater knowledge and understanding of issues facing immigrants from Mexico.

Through a generous gift by the Carlos and Malu Alvarez International Study Fund, the center offers fellowships for students to travel to Mexico for research related to U.S.-Mexico relations or Mexico-related projects. The fellowships are competitive and selected by the UTSA Mexico Center advisory board. The Orizaba study is the first to be funded for research by the College of Sciences.

 

 

Did You Know?

UTSA writes the book on all-digital libraries

As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.

At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.

Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.

With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.

Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.

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