Sarah Jaye Oliva, Ph.D. Candidate

My Research

Sarah Jaye Oliva

I’m primarily interested in earthquakes and volcanoes. I currently work in the Geophysics and Active Tectonics Research (GATR) group with Dr. Cindy Ebinger, using seismic waveform modelling and numerical stress modelling methods to understand how the East African rift system formed. Analysis of the waves that accompany an earthquake can tell us of the mechanism that drove the earthquake – is it simply slip on fault? A curved fault? Magmatic fluids? – which tells us about the geological processes occurring in an area, which then in turn, help inform hazards in that area. Stress modeling of surface and subsurface loads in the region help us identify locations and directions of preferred faulting and/or magmatism.

Throughout my research, I have also had multiple opportunities to collaborate with scientists worldwide. I’ve done research visits at GFZ Center for Geosciences, Germany, and at University of Alberta, Canada. In the summer of 2018, I participated as a field assistant in fieldwork aimed at investigating carbon dioxide flux across a rift valley in northern Tanzania – the same area that I am studying through a seismic perspective. I also helped install and regularly service seismometers to study the 2018 Sierra Negra eruption in the Galápagos, Ecuador.

You can read more about me and what I do on my webpage.

My Life at Tulane

When I tell people I study earthquakes and volcanoes, once in a while, I’d get a confused look: “But there are neither of those in Louisiana.” I then laugh and say, “Exactly! I like to study them from a safe distance!”

As a graduate student, I spend a lot of time cooped up in the lab when I’m not travelling. So it’s really nice to have fun activities laid out for me as soon as I step out. Tulane has plenty of events throughout the year, and New Orleans has no shortage of fun festivals and interesting places to visit. In Tulane, I particularly like the free donuts and coffee with live jazz on Friday mornings by the Dean’s office – the perfect pick-me-upper at the end of the week and a good excuse to chat up some colleagues for a few minutes. In New Orleans, I love springtime, not because of Mardi Gras (sorry!), but because fresh boiled crawfish abound!