February 27, 2008

Geologist to present lecture in “disaster-vision”

High-tech 3-D “disaster-vision” glasses are used to visualize real-world disasters. High-tech 3-D “disaster-vision” glasses are used to visualize real-world disasters.

Remember those paper 3-D glasses people wore to watch a disaster movie? Gerald Bawden from the United States Geological Survey will show how high-tech 3-D glasses are being used to visualize real world disasters at the next Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lecture, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 4 in the University Union Ballroom.

Bawden, the chief scientist of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Remote Sensing and Visualization Center here, is a research geophysicist who studies the mechanisms that drive natural and human-induced disasters.  

Using laser and virtual reality technology, he creates ultra-high-resolution three-dimensional imagery that can detect changes in the earth that cause landslides, debris flows, floods, dam failures, mine collapses, beach erosion and glacier retreat.  

“This technology helps us understand the processes that contribute to disasters and other natural events,” Bawden says.

During the lecture, audience members will have the opportunity to try on 3-D glasses to view laser scan imagery and view the development of disasters including how a bridge that crosses the San Andreas Fault slowly began to bend after the 2004 Parkfield, Calif., earthquake; how Southern California fires stripped canyon walls of hill slope-stabilizing vegetation, thereby leaving the area vulnerable to debris flows and how record rainfall in Southern California saturated the ground and led to the catastrophic collapse of a Laguna Beach neighborhood in 2005. 

In addition to working with USGS, Bawden is an adjunct professor with Sacramento State’s Geology Department, a UC Davis research associate in the Department of Geology and a participant in the W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences at UC Davis.

This is the third of four STEM sponsored lecture series held each academic year. The next lecture is April 29. Jim Baxter, a Sacramento State biology professor, will discuss his work with the California Environmental Legacy Project. All lectures are held on campus and are free.

For more information on the lecture topic, contact Bawden at (916) 278- 3131. For media assistance, contact the Sacramento State Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.