Karen Bemis

Research Associate

Institute Marine and Coastal Sciences

Office: Rm 230, Wright Lab

Research Interests

My research interests focus on the application of mathematical analysis, fluid mechanics and computer visualization to problems in physical volcanology, hydrothermal processes and subduction processes. I use acoustic imaging and computer visualization to understand the 3-D structure and fluid mechanics of seafloor hydrothermal plumes. This involves collecting acoustic images of hydrothermal plumes at sites like Monolith Vent, Juan de Fuca Ridge and applying feature extraction and skeletonization to the images with a computer visualization system. Quantitative visualization yields a plume centerline in 3-D and plume properties (such as local maximum) tied to that centerline; these properties can be compared to qualitative, analytical and numerical models of hydrothermal plumes. Another application of computer visualization involves the use of 3-D delauney triangulation to facilitate the analysis of the morphological space defined by the volcanoes of Guatemala. As a PhD student, I collected a database of volcano heights, basal diameters and crater (or top) diameters for all the volcanoes in the arc and back arc regions of Guatemala. Recently, 3-D visualization has allowed me to constrain the morphologic space occupied by different types of volcanoes, including stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes, cinder cones, maars and domes; in a three dimensional space, using size, flatness and slope as axes, the morphologic space of each type overlaps only slightly with the other types. A more recent application of this means of 3-D visualization of the region occupied by point data is to the constraint of subducting slab shape by earthquake locations. The brittle region defined by the region of deep earthquakes can be visualized as a 3-D solid and potentially quantified.

Research Projects