EarthScope is a bold undertaking to apply modern observational, analytical and telecommunications technologies to investigate the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the physical processes controlling earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
EarthScope will provide a foundation for fundamental and applied research throughout the United States that will contribute to the mitigation of risks from geological hazards, the development of natural resources, and the public's understanding of the dynamic Earth.
Geological processes create the rich fabric of our landscape, from the ancient, eroded Appalachian Mountains to the younger, rugged Rockies and the volcanoes of the northwestern Cascades. Most of us rarely think about the forces that formed the majestic beauty of our national parks or produced our bountiful natural resources. Only when earthquakes rattle communities or volcanoes darken the skies are we jarred into considering the great Earth forces that fashion the terrain upon which we live, work and play.
EarthScope is inspired by the need to address longstanding and fundamental questions about the forces that continue to shape our dynamic Earth. EarthScope's network of multipurpose geophysical instruments and observatories will significantly expand capabilities to observe the structure and ongoing deformation of the North American continent.
* Modern digital seismic arrays will produce three-dimensional images of North America's continental crust and the deeper mantle on which it "floats".
* Global positioning satellite receivers, strainmeters and new satellite radar imagery will measure and map the smallest movements across faults, the magma movement inside active volcanoes and the very wide areas of deformation associated with plate tectonic motion.
* An observatory deep within the San Andreas Fault will provide direct measurements of the physical state and mechanical behavior of one of the world's most active faults in a region of known earthquake generation.
EarthScope will combine these geophysical measurements with data and observations from all disciplines of the Earth sciences, permitting enhanced analyses. Improved understanding of the structures and processes that affect our environment will translate into better hazards assessment, more precise estimates of natural resource potential and a deeper appreciation of connections between different aspects of our physical environment.
The promise of EarthScope is to take a multidisciplinary approach to studying the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the physical properties that control earthquakes and volcanoes. To be successful in this task requires making different data types and related information available to a broad range of scientists, educators, government agencies, the media, and the public. EarthScope will provide seamless, single-point access to all EarthScope related data, data products, and tools and can be viewed as the most important legacy of the National Science Foundation’s largest investment in solid-Earth Science, and a fundamental data base for the next generation of Geoscientists. Efforts are now underway to leverage already existing capabilities at the various EarthScope data centers, and provide state of the art integrated access, visualization tools and capabilities.
* EarthScope Information System
* Drilling (SAFOD)
* Geodetic (PBO)
* Seismic (USArray)
* LiDAR et al. (NASA)
EarthScope and Education
EarthScope provides a unique opportunity for integrating scientific research and education. EarthScope has the potential to enable a broad range of students and the public to participate in a national experiment that is going on in their own backyard, and for the first time to observe and measure geological processes within the time frame of an academic school year. We invite you to take part in the EarthScope Education and Outreach Program. We will tailor our activities and product development to your needs. Please tell us what EarthScope educational materials you would like to see for your classroom and sign up to receive the latest information on EarthScope by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education Resources For Researchers
Education Resources For Educators
These pages provide information on how educators can use EarthScope data, results, and products to make an impact in their class while explaining fundamental geoscience concepts in a clear and easy-to-understand fashion.
* EarthScope Education and Outreach Steering Committee
* Local Science Resources
* Educational publications
* Science In Fiction
* Earth Science Activities
Education Resources For Students
Here students and parents will find resources to help with their science fair projects, to see what typical EarthScope installations look like, and to test their knowledge of earth science.
* Science Fair Ideas
Education Resources For Everyone
These pages give insight into how EarthScope is making a difference on a local scale, from regional experiments to recent events, and from our very own newsletter to news article written by others about the experiment.
* Local EarthScope Information
* EarthScope onSite Newsletter
* EarthScope in the News
* Internships with EarthScope
* Image Gallery
If you have suggestions for improving or expanding our education and outreach information, please contact us at: email@example.com.
San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth
The San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) is a deep borehole observatory that will directly measure the physical conditions under which plate boundary earthquakes occur. Phase 2 drilling began on June 13, 2005. Click here for current drilling information.
Drilling Rig SAFOD is designed to directly sample fault zone materials (rock and fluids), measure a wide variety of fault zone properties, and monitor a creeping and seismically active fault zone at depth. A 3.2-km-deep hole will be drilled through the San Andreas fault zone close to the hypocenter of the 1966 M~6 Parkfield earthquake, where the San Andreas fault slips through a combination of small-to-moderate magnitude earthquakes and aseismic creep. The drill site will be located sufficiently far from the San Andreas fault (as determined by geologic observations, microearthquake locations, and geophysical imaging) to allow for drilling and coring deviated holes through the fault zone starting at a vertical depth of about 3 km and continuing through the fault zone until relatively undisturbed country rock is reached on the other side.
Even after decades of intensive research, numerous fundamental questions about the physical and chemical processes acting within the San Andreas and other major plate-bounding faults remain unanswered. SAFOD will provide new insights into the composition and physical properties of fault zone materials at depth, and the constitutive laws governing fault behavior. It also will provide direct knowledge of the stress conditions under which earthquakes initiate and propagate. Although it is often proposed that high pore fluid pressure exists within the San Andreas fault zone at depth and that variations in pore pressure strongly affect fault behavior, these hypotheses are unproven and the origin of overpressured fluids, if they exist, is unknown. As a result, a myriad of untested and unconstrained laboratory and theoretical models related to the physics of faulting and earthquake generation fill the scientific literature. Drilling, sampling and downhole measurements directly within the San Andreas fault zone will substantially advance our understanding of earthquakes by providing direct observations on the composition, physical state, and mechanical behavior of a major active fault zone at hypocentral depths. In addition to retrieval of fault zone rock and fluids for laboratory analyses, intensive downhole geophysical measurements and long-term monitoring are planned within and adjacent to the active fault zone. Observatory-mode monitoring activities will include near-field, wide-dynamic-range seismological observations of earthquake nucleation and rupture and continuous monitoring of pore pressure, temperature, and strain during the earthquake cycle.
Directly evaluating the roles of fluid pressure, intrinsic rock friction, chemical reactions, in situ stress and other parameters in the earthquake process will provide opportunities to simulate earthquakes in the laboratory and on the computer using representative fault zone properties and physical conditions.
For more information click here, or contact: Mark Zoback, Steve Hickman, or Bill Ellsworth
The Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) component of EarthScope is a geodetic observatory designed to study the three-dimensional strain field resulting from deformation across the active boundary zone between the Pacific and North American plates in the western United States. The observatory consists of arrays of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and strainmeters which will be used to deduce the strain field on timescales of days to decades and geologic and paleoseismic investigations to examine the strain field over longer time scales. PBO will address the following scientific questions:
* What are the forces that drive plate-boundary deformation?
* What determines the spatial distribution of plate-boundary deformation?
* How has plate-boundary deformation evolved?
* What controls the space-time pattern of earthquake occurrence?
* How do earthquakes nucleate?
* What are the dynamics of magma rise, intrusion, and eruption?
* How can we reduce the hazards of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions?
The PBO Facility will consist of three major elements.
1. A backbone network of 116 new and 20 existing GPS receivers that will provide a long-wavelength, long-period synoptic view of the entire plate boundary zone including the eastern US. The backbone will cover western North America and Alaska at a receiver spacing of 200 km and the eastern US at a receiver spacing of 500 km.
2. Focused dense clusters of 775 permanent GPS receivers and 175 strainmeters along fault zones and magmatic centers in western North America and Alaska.
3. A pool of 100 portable campaign GPS receivers for temporary deployments and rapid response. These instruments can be used to augment the permanent instruments, extend PBO investigations into Canada and Mexico, and respond to volcanic and tectonic crises.
PBO will operate as a program under UNAVCO, Inc. , a non-profit membership-governed organization that supports research applications of high-precision geodetic and strain techniques such as the GPS. The UNAVCO, Inc. President will oversee a PBO Director who has primary supervisory, budgetary, management, and reporting responsibility for all components of the PBO effort.
More information about PBO can be found on the PBO Project Pages .
usarray The USArray component of the EarthScope experiment is a continental-scale seismic observatory designed to provide a foundation for integrated studies of continental lithosphere and deep Earth structure over a wide range of scales. USArray will provide new insight and new data to address fundamental questions in earthquake physics, volcanic processes, core-mantle interactions, active deformation and tectonics, continental structure and evolution, geodynamics, and crustal fluids (magmatic, hydrothermal, and meteoric). The USArray facility will consist of three major seismic components:
1. A transportable array of 400 portable, unmanned three-component broadband seismometers deployed on a uniform grid that will systematically cover the US;
2. A flexible component of 400 portable, three-component, short-period and broadband seismographs and 2000 single-channel high frequency recorders for active and passive source studies that will augment the transportable array, permitting a range of specific targets to be addressed in a focused manner; and
3. A permanent array of high-quality, three-component seismic stations, coordinated as part of the US Geological Survey's Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), to provide a reference array spanning the contiguous United States and Alaska.
Additional components of the USArray facility include:
4. An array of 30 magnetotelluric sensors embedded within the transportable and permanent arrays that will provide constraints on temperature and fluid content within the lithosphere,
5. 16 permanent geodetic-grade GPS receivers, closely integrated with the PBO program, that will image continental-scale deformation.
The goal of this layered design is to achieve imaging capabilities that flexibly span the continuous range of scales from whole Earth, through lithospheric and crustal, to local.
More information about USArray can be found on the USArray Project Pages.