Randell Teodoro of Manila Observatory attended the Workshop on Geophysical Data Analysis and Assimilation at ICTP, Trieste, Italy

Randel Teodoro of Manila Observatory (left), with Dr. Gerald Schubert, Professor Emeritus of UCLA and lecturer on geodynamics, and Ph.D. student Iva Dasovic of University of Zagreb, Croatia

Randel Teodoro of Manila Observatory (left), with Dr. Gerald Schubert, Professor Emeritus of UCLA and lecturer on geodynamics at ICTP, and Ph.D. student Iva Dasovic of University of Zagreb, Croatia

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Randell Teodoro, a researcher of the Solid Earth Dynamics program of Manila Observatory, attended the Workshop on Geophysical Data Analysis and Assimilation at Abdus Salaam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy last October 29 to November 3, 2012.  This workshop was sponsored by  International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG).  Below is an interview with Randell by the Ateneo Physics News.

1.  Was this your first time in Italy?

Yes.  I went to an ICTP sponsored workshop in India before.  But it was my first time to join an ICTP sponsored workshop in Italy.

2.  What did you do there? What was your day like?

They told us  that the workshop was designed for two weeks, but they compressed it to 6 days.  Our breakfast is at 8 a.m.  The lectures start at 9 a.m.  Lunch is at 1 p.m. and coffee breaks in between.  The meal stubs are sponsored by ICTP.  The last lecture is about 4:30-6:00 p.m.  Then we go to the laboratory at 6 to 7 p.m. Sometimes we continue yesterday’s sessions.  If you have a question, laboratory assistants will help with the programs. Usually they are students of the professors.

3.  Is the workshop solely about earthquakes?

Randel Teodoro (left) with Dr. Boris Bukchin of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Dr. Anatoli Levshin of University of Colorado. co-participants Robert Truszkowski of National Atomic Agency, Poland and Mehdi Rastgoo of University of Tehran, Iran

Randel Teodoro (left) with Dr. Boris Bukchin of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Dr. Anatoli Levshin of University of Colorado. co-participants Robert Truszkowski of National Atomic Agency, Poland and Mehdi Rastgoo of University of Tehran, Iran

It is not necessarily about earthquakes or seismology, but geophysical–more  leaning towards the earth itself. We did not cover GPS crustal movement which is more of plate tectonics and seismology. Geophysics is broad. I was thinking that since we use GPS for monitoring earthquakes or geophysical phenomena, I thought there is GPS in the workshop. My field was in geodetic engineering. We primarily use GPS. I thought in the workshop we can integrate seismic data with that kind of GPS data. But it is not covered in the talks. I was expecting that in the last part on the methods of assimilation. But they mentioned that only in passing. They were talking about it in general. That is one part that I did not anticipate.

4.  How long have you been in the Solid Earth Dynamics Program of Manila Observatory under Fr. Sergio Su, SJ?

I started December 5, 2005. I was part-time then. Ate Lily Tejonas was retired, but she was hired as consultant. When she really retired for good, they looked for a part-time and I got in. After a year, Grace Cardinal (now Dr. Grace Cardinal-Rolusta) got a Monbushu scholarship for Japan and worked with Prof. Kiyohumi Yumoto of Space Environment Research Center (now International Center for Space Weather Science and Education). She is my senior. When she left, I became a full-time staff. I am now on my seventh year.

5.  What do you primarily do in Solid Earth Dynamics Program?

The main studies here are on earthquake monitoring through our Davao seismic station and on focal mechanism research under Fr. Su.

In seismic monitoring, we mostly do the administrative jobs like making reports on the condition of the station. Kuya Efren and Kuya Ruel are in charge of the Davao Station.  If there are upgrades needed, we communicated with USGS, because they are the ones who supply the equipment for the station. The USGS buys the equipment and gives it to us.  The operational expenses are covered by Manila Observatory, such as electricity, communications, internet, and utilities.  We also read seismograms from Davao city, especially the p- and s-wave arrival times, which we send tot he International Seismological Senter (ISC) in UK. That is the contribution of Manila Observatory to international seismology. Though it is not actual research, we contribute to the date used for seismology.

In focal mechanism research, we use Fortran programs written by Fr. Su, depending on what his requirements are. The preliminary analysis happens here. The evaluation of the results is done by Fr. Su. Focal mechanism is representation of the mechanics of earthquake on earth, by indicating the orientation of the fault and the slip, and how the fault moved.  Focal mechanism is traditionally obtained by trying to look at the p-wave arrival times on different stations. It is a global thing. Once you determine that, there is a certain procedure.  One station may experience a compressional stress and the other an elongation, depending on the seismogram.  You group these compressions and elongations and divide them into zones. Then you would have an estimate how the fault moved, whether it is left lateral, right lateral, normal fault, reverse fault, oblique.  This is one use of focal mechanism,. The other use is for determining the stresses in the area based on the same compressions experienced by the stations.  You can compute these stresses.

a panoramic shot of my view of the Adriatic Sea from my room at the Adriatico Guesthouse

A panoramic shot of Randell Teodoro’s view of the Adriatic Sea from my room at the Adriatico Guesthouse

6.  Are all the programs you use developed by Fr. Su?

We divide the data set into four series. Series A is determined by Fr. Su.  A program was written by Fr. Su to determine the focal mechanism solution. The other programs were derived from Harvard Seismology–they are the ones who compute the focal mechanism. One way is to test our program is to compare its results with those of other agencies.  Our results are usually ok. If the required is standard deviation, the values are not far with those solved using different methods.

7.  How old is Fr. Su?

He just turned 90 last November 12. He was doing research since Manila Observatory came here in Quezon City about 1963. He already worked with earthquakes. There is a different person in charge of seismology before. He is Fr. Bernard F. Doucette, SJ.

8.  What is the most interesting thing you learned in the ICTP workshop?

I always thought that surface waves is something you want to eliminate especially if you are talking about the earth’s interior, because they act on the surface and not on the inside. That is why you want tomography to x-ray the earth’s interior. In the talk, they showed us that that there are more things we can do with surface waves.  The available digital data allows us to compute things we can’t do before when the data is still in photographs or paper. Using numerical techniques, we can study the seismic waveforms.  And the data is there.  It is free.  The more stations you use, the more data you can process.  It is nice that you can use all those different data for research that you couldn’t do before.

Randell Teodoro (third from left) during a night out with ICTP workshop participants at Trieste

Randell Teodoro (third from left) during a night out with ICTP workshop participants at Trieste

9.  Are there some things that you learned in the talks that you can immediately apply in the Solid Earth Dynamics program of Manila Observatory?

The research is groundbreaking. It is not entirely within the scope of the Solar Earth Dynamics program. The next step of SED is to do the research that is made there. One problem  is we do not want to conflict with PhiVolcs. We do not want to be redundant in the research that they are doing. This is a path that is not taken by PhiVolcs, which is more concerned with communities because that is their mandate from the government. Pure research in the direction of surface wave tomography is an opportunity for Manila Observatory and SED. In the case of the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS), I am not sure if they are doing this. I have not heard from them about tomography and frequency time analysis (FTAN).  I first heard about these techniques in ICTP. The exciting part, especially forFTAN is that data is available. On a bigger scale, seismograms are available freeely in the internet. We have access to stations which are part of the Global Seismic Network (GSN).  ICTP also gave to us the computer programs for free. It is our fault if we do not use them. The scientists in ICTP are open to communicate with us.  We can can e-mail them regarding frequency time analysis, surface wave tomography, and the moment tensor inversion programs. The programs for convection in the earth’s interior and the other things discussed in the talks–I am not sure if they are available. These programs are location specific.  They may not be applicable to Philippines because our country is not a single landmass but an archipelago. Maybe it is too small for that kind of research.  But tomography and FTAN would be useful to us because there are many earthquakes in the Philippines.

10.  You do not have access to PhiVolcs data?

No. We do not have access to their data. We have to request to access to their data.

11.  How many are you in the ICTP workshop?

The total number of participants including the lecturers is 46. I do not know how many are only participants. Some of them came locally from Italy, Croatia, and Poland.  Others are from Iran and Egypt.  The participants come from different fields.  Lydia, for example, came from Italy, but her research is mostly on tsunami which does not happen in Italy.  She is trying to see what possible things she can do. There is another one from Mexico doing tomography.

12.  What was your initial impression when you entered ICTP?

I was shivering because of the cold. It was Autumn going to Winter. I was not used to the cold.  Also, I was the one who has the least educational attainment. Some have finished their Masters or are PhD students. The research that they do is in seismology. In the academe, they mostly do seismology research. Others are from  research institutions. I felt that even if we are in the same age group, they are more advanced than I am in their studies. I was there in the workshop to know what can be done, to gain knowledge. I was not there to share what the Manila Observatory does since it is not really my field. Most of them are physics graduates. Their course is Geophysics. My course is Geodetic Engineering.  The topics are not  what I was trained in my Masters studies in Remote Sensing. I was having difficulty there. The professors immediately presented equations which I hardly understood.  The equations only became familiar when the professors began explaining them.  Equations follow one after another. I know it is there somewhere in my brain. If I probably read through the lecture notes, I would probably understand them. They have this everyday. They talk about this even in class. They have easier access in their brains. Mine is still harboring somewhere.

The other lecture I appreciated is on Focal Mechanism, because I know what he is talking about. Source Mechanism Inversion is just another term for Focal Mechanism. I understand this because it is my area of knowledge. The other one on  theoretical physics is too abstract. I am not used to equations.

Randell Teodoro's pizza lunch

Randell Teodoro’s pizza lunch

13.  How is food and drink in Italy?

You eat one pizza and that’s it. When you want to eat outside in the City proper, you go  to a restaurant.  You just eat one pizza. You do not order a slice as we do here in the Philippines. You have to order one pizza. You may drink it with either wine or beer. The meals inside ICTP have at least bigger servings.  Their half meal  is full mean here. You have options for pasta meat and two vegetables. At least I can say I ate authentic  Italian food even if it was only from the a canteen, because an Italian made it.

14.  Did you get to travel around?

We only went to the city proper in Trieste. It was a walking tour with friends. There guy from Egypt named Mohmmed. He worked with Dr. Panza who is one of the organizers. He knows the place well.  He became our our unofficial tour guide. We walked from ICTP to Trieste. We passed Miramare castle then to St. Benedict’s walk. It is along the coast similar to the Bay Walk in Roxas Boulevard beside Manila Bay. We reached Trieste on foot.  We walked about 3 to 4 kilometers–an hour of walking. On the way home, since my flight was from Venice airport Marco Polo, I left ICTP earlier.  I toured Venice. There was a flood that day.  I reached San Marco Center Plaza.  The only thing I saw was that the church is being made.  It was flooded in the middle. I cannot take good photos. That is all. I wanted to go to Rome, but it is too far.

15.  Are there anything else you wish to say?  Any parting words?

I find this workshop exciting for the Solid Earth Dynamics program. In the workshop you see a lot of things things that were done in in field of Seismology and Geophysics. And there are people who made these programs that we can use. I am fortunate to be part of the group who was shared with these programs and knowledge. They said that they will do the workshops every other year. I guess that if we can do this within the next two years, we can say them that we used their programs. Maybe in the future Manila Observatory can have more ties with ICTP and other agencies  mo. I am thankful that there are opportunities like these for researchers who does not really have seismology backgrounds. In ICTP they really wanted to share.

Birthday party of Fr. Sergio Su, SJ and Nino Uy last November 13, 2012 together with the Manila Observatory family

Ninetieth (90th) birthday party of Fr. Sergio Su, SJ.  Nino Uy, his co-celebrant sits beside him.  Randell Teodoro is at the far right.  Photo taken last November 13, 2012 together with the Manila Observatory family.

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About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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