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Meet a Geophysicist: Harmony Colella

3 minutes

(Describer) Titles: Earthscope Chronicles. Meet a Geophysicist – Harmony Colella.

I first became aware of earthquakes when I was seven and I experienced my first earthquake. I was getting ready for school with my sister. We were playing on the floor when the ground began to shake.

(Describer) From a 1987 news report...

(newscaster) The worst jolt struck at 7:42, while an Australian TV network was taping here. I don't think anything will fall on me. Are we still there?

(newscaster) Buildings crumbled, windows shattered, walls collapsed. Damage was immediate and widespread. The worst seemed to be in and around Whittier, 15 miles from downtown Los Angeles and near the apparent center of the quake.

(Colella) We ran to my mom. I said, "Mom, what's going on?" And she said, "This is an earthquake." And I was just amazed that there was a process that could cause so much shaking. And after we surveyed what kind of damage was caused, we found that our pool had been cracked in half and it had displaced our sidewalk in our backyard. And I was fascinated by the destruction and by the fact that there was a process that could actually cause that much damage and cause the ground to shake, and I have spent the rest of my life trying to understand why earthquakes occur. I like being a geologist because it gives me the opportunity to travel the world and to see lots of different types of rocks and meet lots of different people who are doing similar types of research. I get to play in the dirt, which I enjoy. I get to climb on volcanoes, play with lava. I love the outdoors, and being a geologist gives me the opportunity to work outside quite often. We go on deployments. Sometimes we deploy on land and dig big holes, and other times we deploy at sea. We spend weeks at a time on the ocean throwing big seismometers off of the boat. There are two seismometers named after me in the bottom of the Pacific. The chief scientist thought it would be fun to throw me overboard. It's so fulfilling to be able to have these experiences and see the world.

(Describer) Funding to purchase and make this educational program accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Department of Education by telephone at 1-800-USA-LEARN, or online at www.ed.gov.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

PH:1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Harmony Colella, a postdoctoral research fellow from Arizona State University, explains how experiencing an earthquake as a child in Southern California inspired her to become a geophysicist. Part of the “EarthScope Chronicles” series.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

EarthScope Chronicles
Season 0 / Ep 1
3 minutes
Grade Level: 6 - 12
EarthScope Chronicles
Season 0 / Ep 2
3 minutes
Grade Level: 6 - 12
EarthScope Chronicles
Season 0 / Ep 3
5 minutes
Grade Level: 6 - 12
EarthScope Chronicles
Season 0 / Ep 4
5 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12