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ISU geosciences professors, students create virtual tours of eastern Idaho water resources and Mt. Borah quake

May 20, 2010
ISU Marketing and Communications

Want to learn more about eastern Idaho’s majestic waterways and how they drive the Idaho economy?  Curious about the earthquake that shook Borah Peak in 1983?   Ever wonder about the ground water in your Pocatello neighborhood?

Answers to those questions and dozens more are just an online click away in a series of  3-D videos and interactive maps created by Idaho State University’s Department of Geosciences. The videos can be accessed at http://bcal.geology.isu.edu/videos.shtml.

The videos combine standard photography with satellite imagery to illustrate the topography of numerous regions in southeast Idaho, including American Falls Reservoir, Henry’s Lake, Upper Mesa Falls, and Palisades Reservoir. 

Satellite images and sophisticated remote-sensing technology called LiDAR, which uses laser pulses to map the Earth’s surface, were combined with Google Earth, said Nancy Glenn, research associate professor and head of ISU’s Boise Center Aerospace Laboratory.

One video—which features natural springs, reservoirs and waterfalls along the Snake River—will soon greet the 30,000 visitors who drop by each year to the Bureau of Land Management/ U.S. Forest Service Visitor’s Center in Idaho Falls.

“Many people ask about the scenic places where they can go,” said Glenn. “We thought it would be an excellent opportunity to point out those areas and explain the importance of water resources within those regions,” she said.

Geosciences student Carol Moore, of Idaho Falls, who led production of the water video, said water is vital to energy production, agriculture, and recreation in Idaho.

Others who worked on the videos were geosciences Assistant Professor Sylvio Mannel, and Sara Ehinger, a geosciences graduate student.

A 3-D virtual tour of the Borah Peak earthquake fault was produced for science classes in Idaho Falls School District #91 and comes with a study guide for students. 

Moore noted it’s an excellent tool for school districts that don’t have the funds for field trips.

A third activity—an interactive water quality map exploring the Portneuf aquifer—was produced for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Children's Outreach Program in Pocatello.

The videos were funded by the community outreach component of a $15 million grant on climate change secured by Idaho’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and funded by the National Science Foundation.  The five-year grant is shared by Idaho State University, Boise State and University of Idaho.

For more information, contact Nancy Glenn at (208) 345-1994.


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