GSA Funds Advance Graduate Student Andrea McClure’s Volcanic Hazards Research

Posted On November 12, 2018 by Julia Kirn
Categories Headlines, Spotlights

Andrea McClure first stepped into the STEM field as a Biology major at Appalachian State University. Before long though, she swapped the mountain-rimmed campus for Atlanta’s downtown Georgia State University (GSU) location.

Ironically, nature’s call echoed through the walls of an urban parking garage, what is now Kell Hall and where the Geosciences Department was headquartered until the summer of 2018. She is currently working on a research project in Costa Rica, her thesis centering around the creation of hazard maps for the Poás and Barva volcanoes, located in Costa Rica’s NE central valley. So what led her to the field?

M: [At first,] I heard about how you get to go on fieldtrips in many Geosciences classes, so I think that intrigued me. Also, I thought it would be cool to have a career in a field like geology, because I’m not as inclined to end up with a job where I’m indoors every day. I feel like I have a better chance of finding a career that allows me to get outside and do a mixture of different kinds of work.

So, what do you find special about GSU Geosciences?

M: One thing I have always loved is how close-knit the Geosciences department is in particular. When I’m at school I sort of feel like I’m hanging out with friends rather than fellow students.

McClure attributes her success first and foremost to her advisor and mentor, Dr. Paulo Hidalgo, as well as to her peers and GSU’s staff. And it’s under Dr. Hidalgo’s tutelage that McClure is finishing up her master’s thesis.

M: My thesis is constructing updated, accurate volcanic hazards maps for both the Poás and Barva volcanoes. These volcanoes have intermingled volcanic deposits (tephra) that are being dated (to coordinate previous and all eruptive events) and also analyzed for major and trace elements in order to determine which volcanic center they are from.

But her project doesn’t stop there. McClure received a grant from the Geological Society of America (GSA), allotting her the funds to collect additional data.

M: After constructing an accurate eruptive history for both volcanoes, my main goal is then to move onto the creation of the hazard maps for both Poás and Barva. Carbon dating in particular is very expensive, so I am extremely grateful to have received the GSA grant.

In the near future, she hopes to obtain some C-14 dating for her samples to further correlate eruptive events. And what opportunities will she shoot for post-GSU? She intends to leave that in the capable hands of Time and Self-reflection.

M: I know I want to get a job, but that’s about it. I would probably take any sort of geology-related job [at first]. It’s a way for me to figure out what I do and don’t like doing, by trying different jobs.