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125 years of science for America 1879-2004
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Outreach

Festive Open House at the USGS Pacific Science Center


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The new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Pacific Science Center in Santa Cruz, CA, received a warm welcome from the community when it held an open house on September 18 in celebration of the USGS's 125th anniversary. A steady stream of visitors, estimated to number about 400, enjoyed viewing posters, engaging in hands-on activities, and talking to USGS scientists about their work.

Sam Johnson welcomes visitors to the Pacific Science Center. Earll Kingston chats with a visitor
Above Left: Sam Johnson welcomes visitors to the Pacific Science Center. Photograph by Francis Parchaso.

Above Right: Actor Earll Kingston chats with a visitor after his performance of a one-act play about the USGS' second director, John Wesley Powell, and his exploration of the Grand Canyon. Photograph by Phil Stoffer.

A highlight of the day was actor Earll Kingston's performance of a one-act play about the exploration of the Grand Canyon by John Wesley Powell, the USGS's second director. Preceding the play were opening remarks by Sam Johnson, director of the Pacific Science Center and chief of the Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team, which hosted the event; Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the neighboring University of California, Santa Cruz; and Wes Ward, USGS Western Regional Geologist.

Curt Storlazzi Eric Geist
Above Left: Curt Storlazzi explains to visitors how floating "drifters" were used to track the movement of newly spawned coral larvae in an effort to understand variations in the health of Hawaiian coral reefs (see Sound Waves article "West Maui Coastal Circulation Experiment: Understanding the Movement of Sediment, Coral Larvae, and Contaminants Along Coral Reefs"). Photograph by Francis Parchaso.

Above Right: Eric Geist uses computer simulations to show visitors how tsunamis form and move through the ocean and onto the shore. Photograph by Francis Parchaso.

Display topics ranged from faulting and seawater intrusion in the Monterey Bay area, through California sea-otter studies, to research on coral reefs in Hawaii and new observations of submarine hydrothermal systems in the West Pacific. Colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center's Santa Cruz Laboratory hosted a popular exhibit at which they challenged visitors to "Name the Rockfish." Stations spread throughout the center enabled visitors to take virtual flights over tsunamis and sea-floor bathymetry, create their own three-dimensional models of Angel Island and Monterey Canyon, smell oil samples from around California, view the formation and destruction of sand ripples in a see-through flume, and much more.

Parker Allwardt Steve Walter Young visitor gets sidetracked by the railroad line adjacent to the Pacific Science Center
Above Left: Volunteer Parker Allwardt holds a plastic tray steady as a visitor traces a contour line to make a three-dimensional model of Monterey Canyon. Photograph by Francis Parchaso.

Above Center:
Steve Walter, of the USGS Earthquake Hazards Team, helps visitors determine how close they live to a major fault. Photograph by Phil Stoffer.

Above Right: Young visitor gets sidetracked by the railroad line adjacent to the Pacific Science Center (not used on weekends). Photograph by Francis Parchaso.

The Pacific Science Center opened at its present location in December 2003, and planning for the open house and 125th-anniversary celebration (a.k.a. the "Big Birthday Bash") began several months later. The event was highly satisfying for all who took part. Many visitors thanked the scientists for displaying their work and expressed the wish that open houses would be held regularly at the center. To view or download a program for the event, visit USGS Pacific Science Center Open House.


Related Sound Waves Stories
West Maui Coastal Circulation Experiment: Understanding the Movement of Sediment, Coral Larvae, and Contaminants Along Coral Reefs
August 2003

Related Web Sites
Western Region Coastal & Marine Geology
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Santa Cruz & Menlo Park, CA
USGS 125th Anniversary
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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October Publications List


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