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Pnina Miller's Ground-Shaking Work

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Meet Pnina Miller

Seismologist (someone who studies vibrations in the earth.

Her Job: Setting up seismic stations for researchers

This is a photo of Pnina at a seismic station set up at the South Pole!

Most people don’t get paid to watch explosions set off by scientists. But it’s all part of the job for Dr. Pnina Miller. She works at PASSCAL where they set up equipment for scientists to

study movements in the earth. It's a bit like a library, but instead of books, scientists check out seismic equipment. They use it to measure changes in ground motion. Scientists use the data to study earth’s layers, earthquakes, volcanoes, and even glaciers, which are slow-moving sheets of ice. For some of these projects, Pnina goes along to set up the equipment and make sure it's working correctly. Click here to explore this interactive map

Each balloon on this map shows a PASSCAL research station site.

Some scientists use the equipment to study natural ground motion from earthquakes or volcanoes. But sometimes the scientists have to make the ground move. They might use explosives. They might use giant trucks that pound the ground as they move. They might force water into cracks in the earth. What they learn from their study helps us understand earth processes. Some experiments help us understand tectonic plates. some experiments help us understand global warming.

Pnina's work has taken her from Alaska to the south pole, all the way around the globe. She's worked on every continent. Here are just a few of the places she has worked.

Tanzania (Africa)
China (Asia)
Tibet (Asia)
Spain (Europe)

Volcano in Costa Rica, Central America
On the equator in Uganda (Africa)
Brazil (South America)
Venezuela (South America)

Pnina likes that her job includes so many people. She works with electricians, mechanical engineers, seismologists, computer programmers, and people who organize the lending and travel.

Pnina’s advice to anybody who wants to work in science is to go outside and look at the world. Take a field trip to your backyard. Be curious. Ask questions. What is this? Why is it here and not there? Don’t settle for a simple answer. Want to know more.

Read these books about earthquakes and volcanoes . . .


by Johanna Wagstaffe

Earthquakes are a terrifying yet fascinating force of nature. Seismologist Johanna Wagstaffe takes you through her own journey of understanding the earth beneath our feet. Along the way you’ll learn the science behind what makes the earth rumble and hear from kids around the world who have experienced the wonder, and terror, of an earthquake.


by Melissa Stewart

Several million earthquakes occur every year-but why and where do they happen? Young readers will get the inside scoop in this exciting volume. Stunning gatefolds and photographs from on the ground and from satellites in space, as well as dramatic first-person accounts, coverage of the recent Haiti disaster, and the latest scientific information, make Inside Earthquakes a fascinating, ripped-from-the-headlines look at this natural phenomenon.


by Kathy Furgang

National Geographic Kids Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes explodes with incredible photos and amazing facts about the awesome powers of nature. You'll find out that three-quarters of Earth's volcanoes are underwater, that an earthquake in Chile shortened the day by 1.26 milliseconds, and much more. Bursting with fascinating information about the biggest volcanic eruptions and earth-shattering earthquakes, this book takes a fun approach to science, introducing kids to plate tectonics and the tumultuous forces brewing beneath the Earth's surface. Filled with fabulous photos and peppered with great facts.


. . . and visit these websites.


Earthquakes for kids from the US Geological Survey

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