3 November 2010

Support volcano monitoring & future volcanologists

Posted by Jessica Ball

Santiaguito Volcano Observatory Fundraiser

It’s been a while since I wrote about this, and it’s definitely time for an update. If you’re new to Magma Cum Laude, or just haven’t visited the site for a while, you’ll notice that there’s a “Donate to Santiaguito” tab on the top of the page. Clicking there will help you learn a bit more about a fundraising effort I helped start earlier this year for the Santiaguito Volcano Observatory in Guatemala. For my field research, I spent most of my time either at the Observatory or working with its staff, and realized that although they’re in a prime location to collect valuable data about an active volcano, they have very little of the resources and equipment they need.

Fortunately, the International Volcano Monitoring Fund (run by Dr. Jeff Witter) has stepped forward to help with this. The IVM-Fund is a nonprofit organization that exists solely to help raise money and purchase equipment for volcanologists in developing countries like Guatemala. Right now, there’s a page devoted to helping get the staff of the ¬†Santiaguito Observatory the basic tools that they need to monitor eruptions at the Santiaguito lava dome complex. The tools are very basic and relatively inexpensive, and they’re things that geologists in more wealthy countries simply take for granted. (Imagine not being able to afford a rock hammer or a hand lens!) You can see exactly what the Observatory staff has requested and the cost of each item; donations are accepted in any amount through Paypal, and all of the money goes toward the equipment purchases.

Right now, we’ve raised $2,330, which is more than $1,000 short of what is needed to purchase all the basic equipment that’s been requested (not counting a portable seismic station, which would cost about $5,000). I’d love to see the hardworking folks at the Santiaguito Observatory get the tools they need, which is why I’m asking anyone who feels they can spare the money to donate to this cause – even as little as $10! It’s easy, secure and quick.

The Earth Science Challenge at DonorsChoose.org is still on!

Every year, Anne Jefferson and Chris Rowan of Highly Allocthonous sponsor a fundraising drive for the excellent website DonorsChoose.org, where teachers who work in underfunded schools can ask for donations to purchase educational materials for their students. The Earth Science Challenge is part of a friendly competition between bloggers of all stripes, trying to raise the most money for classroom projects in their area of interest. The Challenge runs from October 10 to November 9 – so there’s just a little time left to put the Earth science bloggers at the front of the race! (Not that you shouldn’t donate anyway – to any and all projects that interest you, at any time of the year – because helping children get a better education is always a good use of your money.)

So far, 15 donors have given over $1,000 that’s reached 1,002 students in this challenge, and it’s not over yet. If you check out the Challenge page, you can see exactly what projects still need to be funded, see photos of the students and descriptions of the projects you’ll be supporting, and even get feedback and thank-yous from the teachers! I’m heading over there right now to buy some Earth science books for students in North Carolina, and I hope that you’ll give some thought to donating to DonorsChoose as well. (And maybe some of them will grow up to be volcanologists…)