CWU professors, students to use grant to study earthquakes and t - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

CWU professors, students to use grant to study earthquakes and tsunamis in Chile

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ELLENSBURG, WA - Two Central Washington University professors just received more than a quarter million dollars in grant money.

The money will go towards a three year research project in Chile, where the professors and some students will study the powerful effects of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Reporter Haley Gibbs talked with Geology Professor Lisa Ely, who told her that Chile's earthquake zone is almost a mirror image to the Pacific Northwest's.

Professor Ely has been going to Chile to study these earthquake areas since 2009 and was present when an earthquake hit Chile in 2010. Although the earthquake itself was very tragic, it did help in developing this research project.

Ely was able to use the data from the previous year and compare it with the new data after the 2010 earthquake. This comparison will further their understanding of how and why these earthquakes occur in Chile, as well as how they could happen here in Washington and what you can do to prepare for such an event.

Ely says that it isn't just her and another professor going...they also take students with them, something she thinks is the best part of the program.

"For me, that's really one of the most exciting parts, is bringing the students from here down there and seeing them interact with the scientists and other students from Chile, working in a big research team," Ely said.

The grant that will be funding this research project is from the National Science Foundation, and the team will use it to take a closer look at the land and figure out how specific areas of land were affected by either a tsunami or an earthquake.

The group leaves in January when it's summertime in Chile, so they have the proper research environment. They'll spend about 3-4 weeks there at a time.

You can visit this website to learn more about the field work they've done in the past: