Michael Ramsey

Professor

Contact

Michael Ramsey
509/511 SRCC
4107 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

412-624-8772

Biography

Michael Ramsey earned his Ph.D. in Geology from Arizona State University in 1996 and his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University in 1990. In 2000 he relocated to the University of Pittsburgh and formed the Image Visualization and Infrared Spectroscopy (IVIS) Laboratory, which is a state-of-the-art image analysis, infrared spectroscopy, and GPS facility. His work has been featured in local and national newspapers, local television and radio, as well as NPR, CNN, and the Discovery Channel.

Dr. Ramsey was appointed by the NASA Administrator as a member of the Earth Science Subcommittee from 2006-2009. He also serves a science team member on three thermal infrared NASA instruments: the Earth-orbiting Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflectance Radiometer (ASTER), the Mars-orbiting Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), and the airborne Mineral and Gas Identified (MAGI). 

  • Research
  • Publications
  • Teaching

Laboratory Infrared Spectroscopy:
High precision thermal infrared (TIR) vibrational spectroscopy provides information on the atomic structure of the minerals that form geologic materials. This facet of my research is focused on the spectral response that result as samples are physically mixed, varied in particle size, or heated to the point of a phase change. Measurements of entrained fine-grained ash and high-temperature melts have not been previously attempted, but results are leading to fundamental information about the structural and chemical changes that occur in volcanic materials.


Lava Flow Emplacement Dynamics:
Fundamental to understanding the behavior of lava flow and dome emplacement is the ability to extract key physical parameters about their surfaces such as temperature, vesicularity and morphology. This is being accomplished by way of near-field observations using thermal cameras, field-based multispectral TIR data, and differential global positioning system (dGPS) data collection. The formation of glassy rinds, vesicular textures, and phenocrysts are each measurable using these tools. These data provide constraints for the modeling of properties such as flow inflation, viscosity changes, and flow propagation.


Remote Sensing of Volcanic Eruptions and Processes:
Using orbital or airborne remote sensing provides the synoptic data of an active eruption and allows integration of the laboratory and field-based studies into a complete picture. My research using the ASTER sensor has resulted in a long-term funded project to develop a sensor-web approach to monitor the globe’s most active volcanoes. Of specific interest is the linkage between the renewal of activity at a volcano, the ability of remote sensing to detect that activity, and most importantly, to monitor subsequent hazards.


Planetary Surface Volcanology/Geomorphology:
My planetary research has focused on various volcanic and impact crater studies on Mars and the moon (as well as terrestrial analog sites). Thermal inertia data is being used to develop a model of interpreting eolian mantling on some of the youngest lava flows on Mars. Results should allow us to separate the spectral effects of mantling and better analyze the underlying flow compositions. Small-scale (< 2km) impact craters on Mars and the moon represent some of the most recent processes on the surface. Distinguishing impact craters from similarly-sized volcanic craters (maars) is not straightforward, but could lead to the identification of water-rich regions of the subsurface. By examining terrestrial analogs and developing new remote sensing techniques, models can be tested both of these processes.


Eolian Processes and Desertification:
Ongoing research is being conducted into eolian processes, including sediment transport, the radiative effects of dust, desertification and detection of soil moisture in a changing climate. Using remote sensing techniques to study dynamic features such as dunes provides the synoptic ability to examine changes in sediment supply and climate conditions over time. It also allows for the monitoring of marginal drought and fire prone regions susceptible to future desertification and the point-sources for larger atmospheric dust storms. New work is focused on using thermal inertia to detect soil moisture at smaller scales during periods of drought.


Urban Environmental Science and Hazards:
A long-term research interest involves the application of remote sensing and geographical information system (GIS) modeling to monitor and analyze urban growth, its impact on the surrounding environment, and the associated hazards. By using approaches similar to those used for the data analysis and visualization of volcanoes and eolian targets, key urban data products can be generated such as calibrated/geometrically accurate land use change, material identification, heat island maps and their changes over time.

Research Areas

Crown, D.A. and Ramsey, M.S., Morphologic and thermophysical characteristics of lava flows southwest of Arsia Mons, Mars, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., in press, 2016.

Harris, A.J., Dehn, J., Webley, P., Wright, R., Pergola, N., Lombardo, V., Ramsey, M., Davies, A., Ganci, G., Coppola, D., Gué, Y. and Zaksek, K., Appendix A: Collation of hot spot detection algorithms, in: Harris, A., De Groeve, T., Garel, F. and Carn, S. A. (eds.), Detecting, Modeling and Responding to Effusive Eruptions, Geol. Soc., London, Special Publications, 426, (in press), 2016.

Harris, A.J.L., Carn, S., Dehn, J., Del Negro, C., Guđmundsson, M. T., Cordonnier, B., Barnie, T., Chahi, E., Calvari, S. Catry, T., de Groeve, T., Coppola, D., Davies, A., Favalli, M., Ferrucci, F., Fujita, E., Ganci, G., Garel, F., Huet, P., Kauahikaua, J., Kelfoun, K., Lombardo, V., Macedonio, G., Pacheco, J., Patrick, M., Pergola, N., Ramsey, M., Rongo, R., Sahy, F., Smith, K., Tarquini, S., Thordarson, T., Villeneuve, N., Webley, P., Wright, R. and Zakšek, K., Conclusion: Recommendations and findings of the RED SEED working group, in: Harris, A.J.L., De Groeve, T., Garel, F. & Carn, S.A. (eds.), Detecting, Modeling and Responding to Effusive Eruptions, Geol. Soc., London, Special Publications, 426, doi:10.1144/SP426.11, 2016.

Patrick, M.R., Kauahikaua, J., Davies, A., Ramsey, M., Antolik, L. and Lee, L., Operational thermal remote sensing and lava flow monitoring at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in: Harris, A., De Groeve, T., Garel, F. and Carn, S. A. (eds.), Detecting, Modeling and Responding to Effusive Eruptions, Geol. Soc., London, Special Publications, 426, doi: 10.1144/SP426.173, 2015.

Price, M.A.*, Ramsey, M.S. and Crown, D.A., Thermophysical characteristics of terrestrial volcaniclastic deposits: Analog analysis for mantled lava flows on Mars, Remote Sens., 8, 152; doi:10.3390/rs8020152, 2016.

Ramsey. M.S., Crown, D.A. and Harris, A.J.L., What can thermal infrared remote sensing of terrestrial volcanoes tell us about processes past and present on Mars?, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 311, 198–216, 2016, (INVITED REVIEW ARTICLE).

Ramsey, M.S., Byrnes, J., Wessels, R. and Izbekov, P., Applications of high-resolution satellite remote sensing for the Northern Pacific volcanic arcs, in Dean, K.G. and Dehn, J., (eds.), Monitoring Volcanoes in the North Pacific: Observations From Space, Springer-Praxis Books, ISBN: 978-3-540- 24125-6, p. 79-100, 2015.

Ramsey. M.S., Temperature and textures of ash flow surfaces: Sheveluch, Kamchatka, Russia (4 June 2004), in Dean, K.G. and Dehn, J., (eds.), Monitoring Volcanoes in the North Pacific: Observations from Space, Springer-Praxis Books, ISBN: 978-3-540-24125-6, 389 pp., 2015.

Ramsey, M.S., Synergistic use of satellite thermal detection and science: A decadal perspective using ASTER, in: Harris, A., De Groeve, T., Garel, F. and Carn, S. A. (eds.), Detecting, Modeling and Responding to Effusive Eruptions, Geol. Soc., London, Special Publications, 426, doi:10.1144/SP426.23, 2015, 2015.

Reath, K.A.*, Ramsey, M.S., Dehn, J., Webley, P.W., Forecasting eruptions from precursory activity using remote sensing data hybridization, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 321, 18-30, 2016.

Rose, S.R.* and Ramsey, M.S., The 2005 and 2007 eruptions of Klyuchevskoy Volcano, Russia: Behavior and effusion mechanisms, in Dean, K.G. and Dehn, J., (eds.), Monitoring Volcanoes in the North Pacific: Observations from Space, Springer-Praxis Books, ISBN: 978-3-540-24125-6, 389 pp., 2015. 

Lee, R.J., Ramsey, M.S. and King, P.L., Development of a novel laboratory technique for hightemperature thermal emission spectroscopy of silicate melts, J. Geophys. Res., 118, doi:10.1002/ jgrb.50197, 2013.

Ramsey, M.S. and Harris, A.J.L., Volcanology 2020: How will thermal remote sensing of volcanic surface activity evolve over the next decade?, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 249, 217-233, 2013.

Ramsey, M.S., Wessels, R.L. and Anderson, S.W., Surface textures and dynamics of the 2005 lava dome at Shiveluch Volcano, Kamchatka, Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull., doi:10.1130/B30580.1, (cover

issue), 2012.      

Full list of publications

GEOL 0820 Natural Disasters


The geologic, hydrologic, and atmospheric processes that impact the human environment in the catastrophic ways are examined in this course.  Natural disasters surveys energy cycles, plate tectonics with an emphasis on how they produce earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, wildfires, flooding, landslides, climate change, and mass extinctions.  Students will get hands on experience in recitation.  This course serves as an introductory course for three majors in Geology and Environmental Science.  

GEOL 0870 The Planets


This course is an introduction to the worlds of our solar system.  We will make extensive use of the most recent and dramatic images to discuss the nature, origin, and history of the planets and moons of our solar system.

GEOL1460 Introduction to Remote Sensing


This course provides a foundation in the theory, techniques, and applications of remote sensing and geospatial data visualization spanning the electromagnetic spectrum.  Topics include light/matter interaction, optics, and sensor design, image analysis, as well as current applications of remote sensing to science and engineering problems facing local and global populations.  The course and integrated image-processing laboratory are designed to provide the student with a strong foundation of remote sensing science.
 

GEOL 2460 Applied Remote Sensing and GPS Techniques


Designed as a follow on to the Introduction to Remote Sensing course, this advanced class emphasizes field-oriented problems, data collection, and validation.  The ultimate goal is to explore the connection between remotely-gathered imagery and the real-world factors which influence those data.  Students taking the course should have had at least one semester of high school or college level physics.
 

GEOL 2461 Advanced Remote Sensing

This course is offered in conjunction with the introduction to Remote Sensing (GEOL 1460).  This course provides a foundation in the theory, techniques, and applications of remote sensing and geospatial data visualization spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from the ultraviolet to microwave wavelength region.  Topics include light/matter interaction, optics, and sensor design, image analysis using commercial software, as well as current applications of remote sensing to science and engineering problems facing local and global populations.  The course and integrated image-processing laboratory are designed to provide you with an appreciation of current remote sensing issues, the geologic and human processes that impact remotely-gathered data, and how those processes can be measured using remote sensing.  Students taking this course will participate in an independent research project involving remote sensing theory/data analysis.  Students with no prior remote sensing background will also be required to participate in the GEOL 1460 lecture and computer labs.

GEOL 2640 Advanced Geohazards and Risk Management

The geological and natural processes that affect the human environment in catastrophic ways are examined in this class in terms of science, prediction, mitigation, avoidance, and the policy/safety issues involved.  These problems commonly result from human activity modifying and impinging the natural geologic processes.  Detailed topics covered include; the four primary hazards that are common in the United States:  earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding.

GEOL 3970 Remote Exploration of the Moon and Mars


This course focuses on the theory, technology and science of the recent and upcoming remote sensing data sets of mars.  Numerous mars missions from rovers to orbiters have produced datasets that span the electromagnetic spectrum, and these will be the focus of this graduate level seminar style class.  Student should have had a remote sensing course and will work as a group to complete an independent scientific study utilizing mars remote sensing data.