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Characterizing and Communicating Earth Structure Through Seismology and Pedagogy


Chapter 1 is a seismic study of the mantle structure of the passive margin of northeastern North America. This region experienced multiple episodes of rifting and orogenesis in the past, and the study aims to understand how the Wilson Cycle impacts the geometry of the upper mantle seismic structure beneath southern New England using Sp receiver functions. Our findings indicate that structures related to the formation and breakup of Pangea may still be preserved at depth despite more recent magmatic and tectonic influences. Chapter 2 presents an analysis of P-wave attenuation for East Africa, focusing on the Afar, the Eastern Branch, and the Western Branch regions to analyze the extent to which volatiles may explain the presence of the regions’ slow seismic velocities. Our modeled results indicate that a low Qp melt layer, similar to those observed beneath mid-ocean ridges, is sufficient to reconcile previous geochemical and geophysical results. Chapter 3 describes a quasi-experimental education study that tests the relationship between pedagogical methods and students’ spatial skills in an introductory earth science general education course. In our study, we found no difference in the efficacy of the teaching methods or environments tested. We did observe a difference in male and female performance in domain-general spatial skills, with females scoring lower, suggesting that a focus on improving disparities between genders be considered in courses where spatial learning is required.

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