Interim Report

Team Number: 080
School Name: Mosquero High School
Area of Science: Earth Science
Project Title: A Wonder of Olympus Mons
Project Abstract: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/abstracts/080.html
Interim Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/interims/080.html
Final Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/finalreports/080/finalreport.html

Team 080's problem involves the largest volcano in our solar system: Olympus Mons. It is located on the Tharsis Plateau of Mars and covers an area of land that is larger than the state of Arizona. Being fifteen miles from the surface of the planet, having a 634 km diameter and being a remarkable 3 times larger than Mauna Loa of Hawaii (Earth's largest volcano) an eruption is bound to have major effects on Mars.

Olympus Mons is a shield volcano. These types of volcanoes are shaped like a warrior's shield (hence their name) with long gentle slopes produced by eruptions of low-viscosity basaltic lava. Viscosity is the measure of fluidity of a substance. Because basalt contains a very low viscosity lever, its flow during an eruption would be exteremely slow and severely hot leaving its imprint along the sides of the volcano. The lava flows from shield volcanoes are usually 1 to 10 meters (3.3 to 33 ft) thick but may still extend great distances from the vent, despite its basaltity.

Olympus Mons is said to be an extinct volcano. That is also what was said anout Mount St. Helens in Washington and the 1990 eruption came as such a surprise. Although a volcano has been declared extinct, the possibility of eruptions still linger.

For this reason, we feel the results of our project will be rather interesting. It is possible to make a precise, not necessarily exact, prediction of an eruption on Olympus Mons. Several indications have already been recognized by researchers and have already provided assistance in premonitions. These are the three of the most obvious:

  1. The number and size of earthquakes increase in and around the volcano.
  2. The ground deforms or "bulges" at the eruptions site.
  3. A lot more gas comes out of the volcano.
If a volcano is monitored closely and properly, more indications are likely to come up. There are several ways to monitor a volcano:
  1. Seismicity
  2. Study of ground deformation
  3. Constant monitor of gases rising from the fumaroles (the vent or opening in the ground from which hot water vapor (steam) and/or volcanic gases are emitted.)

The results we hope to obtain will be the chances of eruptions in so many years. We will study previous eruption records and try to recognize a pattern since we cannot travel to Mars for closer monitoring. In addition we will seek the assistance from the NASA Volcanology Team, Cascades Volcano Observatory and Volcano World, all of whom we have access to on the Internet.

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New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge