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Geology Alum In the News

When a 7.8 earthquake hit Pakistan earlier this week, and a new island was apparently formed because of the quake, media went to Washington and Lee alumnus Bill Barnhart for an explanation.

Bill, a member of the Class of 2008, is a USGC Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), in Golden, Colo. He received his Ph.D. in geophysics from Cornell in January.

Devotees of The Weather Channel might have caught a glimpse of Bill explaining how the island was formed as part of that channel’s coverage. Or you might have read Bill’s analysis on the National Geographic website.

As Bill explained, the island in question was the result of a “mud volcano,” which was caused by the release of gases as the result of Tuesday’s quake. He also said that it’s likely to disappear within a couple of months. “It’s just a big pile of mud that was on the sea floor that got pushed up,” he said.

On his personal website, Bill says that his primary research interests “lie in observing the current motions of the earth’s surface. I use these measurements to better understand the forces that drive geologic hazards, such as earthquakes, the active growth of mountain belts, and aseismic deformation that occurs both at the boundaries and in the interiors of tectonic plates.”

Watch Bill’s explanation of the new island below:

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