Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Scoping the Earth

EarthScope is an ambitious large scale science project, funded by the US National Science Foundation, which has deployed thousands of geophysical detectors across North America to understand the tectonics of the continent. Arrays of hundreds of seismometers, global position sensors, strain meters, and synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) instruments have been installed across USA. These are complemented by airborne LiDAR imagery and a 3.2km borehole into the San Andreas Fault.

EarthScope data are freely accessible, and have produced some stunning images of the motions of Earth's surface with a range of diversity and resolution previously unsurpassed. A series of focussed studies have yielded new data on tectonic stretching in the Rio Grande rift, episodic tremors along the Cascadia subduction in Oregon and Washington, as well as continental-scale seismic and magnetotelluric pictures of the entire US.

An example of one of the most stunning results from the EarthScope project so far is the amazing video of the 2011 Virginia earthquake, captured on the transportable seismic array and shown athttp://youtu.be/IKE7MLNdtcg

The image here shows UNAVCO field engineer, Peter Gray, deploying a GPS system on the flank of Mount St Helens, as part of the EarthScope project. The GPS stations will be able to record relative movements of the volcano as small as 500 µm (0.02') and monitor any deformation arising from magma movement in the depths of the volcano.

Image credit: UNAVCO, EarthScope, NSF

Links: http://www.unavco.org/

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