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NewsWatch: 2010: Geologists use virtual reality to study earthquakes

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[Narrator:] From the University of California at Davis, this is NewsWatch.

[Andy Fell:] UC Davis geologists are using virtual reality to study recent earthquakes in Haiti and Baja California.

[Andy Fell:] We zoomed in here on this cloud of points -- this is the vicinity of the Presidential Palace.

[Andy Fell:] The W. M. Keck Center at UC Davis lets geologists visit disaster zones without leaving campus. It uses aerial and satellite photos and laser scans of the ground.

[Eric Cowgill, UC Davis Geology Professor:] It creates a virtual environment, an immersive virtual environment, that we can step into a model of a site and conduct virtual geologic investigations without going to the site.

[Mike Oskin, UC Davis Geology Professor:] It's a really powerful analytical tool to study large amounts of data.

[Andy Fell:] The geologists get out of the way of relief efforts and do things that are impossible in the field.

[Eric Cowgill:] We can make ourselves 20 stories high so we have an overview of the landscape or we can rapidly fly along the landscape as if we were in a helicopter and then take our helicopter and fly inside the Earth and see the Earth from the bottom.

[Andy Fell:] By studying the scars of past and present earthquakes, we can learn more about future risks.

[Andy Fell:] This is one of the ways that we learn about past earthquakes, by measuring progressive displacement of features of the landscape, that tells us how fast a fault is moving and in essence how frequently it must produce earthquakes.

[Andy Fell:] The UC Davis lab is one of very few of its type in the country.

[Andy Fell:] In terms of the software and our ability to make use of the hardware we are unique

[Andy Fell:] Reporting for NewsWatch, I'm Andy Fell.

[Narrator:] For more information please log on to broadcast.ucdavis.edu.

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Original Air Date: September 12, 2010    Total Run Time: 00:01:45

Media contact(s):
• Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu