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    The Closing Date has been updated to February 19, 2019.

    What General Information Do I Need to Know About This Position? 


    Vancouver, WA : $77,929 (Step 01) to $101,308 (Step 10);  

    Anchorage, AK : $81,421 (Step 01) to $105,847 (Step 10);

    NOTE: First time hires to the Federal Government are typically hired at the Step 01.

    There is one vacancy; however, this announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies if they become available.

    Learn more about this agency


    Mendenhall Research Fellowship - Research Opportunity # 17-15. Next-generation monitoring to rapidly characterize eruption hazards 

    Many of the ~160 active volcanoes in the USA are located along major flight routes or near communities that would be significantly impacted by airborne ash. A key goal of the USGS mission is to provide timely detection and warning of volcanic hazards, ideally within the first few minutes of eruption onset. For the past few decades, baseline volcano surveillance has relied primarily on seismic, geodetic, and satellite-based platforms, which are powerful under favorable conditions. But these tools cannot reliably characterize plume height, eruption rate, and other atmospheric processes within the first half hour, when they are most needed by decision makers. Such challenges are amplified by non-ideal conditions, such as poor visibility due to nighttime or cloud cover, wind noise, and non-eruptive tremor.

    In this regard, two new tools have shown great promise. Explosive eruptions that inject ash high into the atmosphere produce: (1) low frequency sound waves (infrasound), and (2) radio waves from volcanic lightning.

    In both cases, these waves can be detected remotely, up to thousands of kilometers away. And in the case of volcanic lighting, detection is a nearly-instantaneous, reliable indication of volcanic ash in the atmosphere. The recent eruption of Alaska’s Bogoslof Volcano in 2016–2017 showed how infrasound and lightning work in synergy with satellite and seismic detection to illuminate volcanic processes. A clear message from this response effort was that there is no “silver bullet” in volcano surveillance. The next generation of monitoring requires a diverse, adaptable, and multiparametric system. Among other things, this means developing the new frontiers of lightning and infrasound.

    We seek a Mendenhall postdoctoral fellow to improve our fundamental understanding of geophysical signals from volcanic lightning and infrasound. This may involve a broad range of topics including:

    • Investigating eruption processes that produce electrical/acoustic signals in the atmosphere, in context with satellite observations (e.g., linking lightning and infrasound with multiple datastreams such as satellite, seismic data, and analysis of deposits)
    • Developing a next-generation monitoring strategy by leveraging existing lightning and infrasound networks, and embedding more sensitive instruments for targeted coverage
    • Examining the potential for small-scale electrical signals (e.g., continual radio frequency) to become a near-real time monitoring tool. This could involve, for example, deploying a lightning mapping array to an Alaskan volcano such as Cleveland or Pavlof.

    Proposed Duty Station: Vancouver, WA; Anchorage, AK (The duty location will be determined when a selection is made.)

    Areas of Ph.D.: Volcanology, geophysics, geology, electromagnetism or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines but with knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

    Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geologist; Research Geophysicist

    (This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources Specialist.)


    Physical/Environmental Demands: Work is usually performed in an office setting. The work area:

    • Normally involves everyday risks or discomforts that require normal safety precautions typical of offices or meeting and training rooms; or
    • May involve occasional exposure to a laboratory that involves risks and hazards that require safety precautions.
    • Requires special safety precautions and/or protective clothing and equipment.

    The employee applies a wide range of safety precautions when controlled conditions deteriorate due to unforeseen conditions or previously unknown risks.

    Travel Required

    Occasional travel - Overnight travel of 1 to 5 nights per month may be required.

    Supervisory status


    Promotion Potential


This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/515821300. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.