A Jerome Richfield Memorial Scholar informed the audience in attendance about her plate tectonics research, which was made possible by the scholarship fund, during the Provost’s Colloquium Series.
CSUN Provost Harry Hellenbrand presented a plaque to Elena Miranda at the beginning of the presentation and introduced her and her subject matter. “We have faults here in California?” Hellenbrand said jokingly before handing the microphone to Miranda.
During her presentation, Miranda discussed and showed her research about the deformation of the lithosphere, fault systems and their fundamental importance to the formation of the land and oceans.
Miranda said that as far as an earthquake happening along the San Andreas Fault, “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a when sort of problem.”
Plates move due to heat coming through the plates. There are three different types of faults, all of which are in California.
One type is the convergent plate, which is when plates slide along one another. Another kind is a divergent plate, which is when the plates pull apart from one another. Miranda said these types of plates are most common in the ocean.
The third type is the transform plate, which is when the plates slide next to one another. The San Andreas Fault, the main fault that runs through California and cuts through Los Angeles, is a transform plate.
In terms of scientific advances, Miranda said, “This is one of the last frontiers of geoscience.” Miranda said people were walking on the moon before there were advances in discovering plate tectonics on the ocean floor.
Gracie Chamberlain, junior geology major, said she really enjoyed Miranda’s presentation. “She makes everything seem so exciting,” Chamberlain said.
Although she hasn’t taken any of Miranda’s classes, she does plan on taking one and learning more about plate tectonics. “I am interested in plate tectonics, but I haven’t done a lot of research on it,” Chamberlain sad.
Miranda has studied in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Madagascar and currently works in Arizona.
In the Indian Ocean, she has studied divergent plates and the magma that’s being released from the plates’ spreading.
The plates spread apart at the bottom of the ocean floor and magma fills the gaps. Miranda said the process benefits and sustains the lives of the creatures that live on the ocean floor.
The creatures of the ocean floor are the only ones on Earth that aren’t dependent on the sun to sustain life. These animals are supplied minerals out of the crust of the earth. Miranda said the process is called chemosynthesis.
In Arizona, she has been studying similarities between oceanic and continental fault lines and has found similarities in the land formation in Arizona and on the floor of the Indian Ocean.
Miranda, who received her bachelor’s degree from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas and her doctorate from the University of Wyoming, plans to return to Arizona in December to conduct more research. It’d be a lot easier to work in Arizona in December than in the heat during the month of May, Miranda said.
Miranda came to CSUN two years ago and said she “loves this campus and the diverse student body.” Miranda said she wanted to be a role model CSUN students could look up to and said she admires students who attend college and work full-time. When Miranda learned that she received the award to perform her research, she said, “This is an enormous honor.”