Community Workshop Emphasizes Importance of PBO after EarthScope

By Sarah Robinson |

In September of 2014, a community workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation titled "The Future of PBO in the GAGE Facility (2013-2018) and after EarthScope" was held in Breckenridge, Colorado. The workshop allowed 69 individuals to participant in the three-day workshop and included 42 scientists at academic institutions, including all four members of the organizing committee and the PIs of the workshop proposal, five USGS staff, including the Program Officer for Volcano Hazards, the NSF EarthScope and SAGE Facility Program Officer, four representatives from state departments of transportation or the state spatial reference networks, 15 UNAVCO technical and 2 UNAVCO support staff. The objectives for the workshop were to initiate community discussion into how best to position PBO to support priority science topics and education and outreach within the context of current and likely future budgetary scenarios.

The workshop included several keynote presentations, and participants were asked to submit a 500 word abstract to define goals and priorities related to the future of PBO. UNAVCO staff provided extensive backup materials for the workshop participants and gave several brief presentations related to current status of the EarthScope PBO. The bulk of the workshop was organized around scientific and technical breakout sessions. The first breakout session was entitled “Identify key values and scientific priorities for immediate and longer term future,” with three working groups: 1) Interseismic deformation and long-term-tectonics; 2) Earthquake processes and aseismic deformation; and 3) Other observations and data products from PBO. The second breakout session built upon the results of the first, and was entitled “Plan and scenario development: Optimizing infrastructure and data products for scientific priorities; alternative revenue streams; implementation.” This breakout session also featured three working groups: 1) Sensors and instrument clusters; 2) Coordination with key stakeholders; and 3) Data products: tools, users, and uses. All working group reports are available on the workshop website.

For more information about the workshop, view the workshop final report (PDF).

Amphibious Array Workshop Emphasizes Importance of Amphibious Science in Report

By Sarah Robinson |
Amphibious Array Workshop Emphasizes Importance of Amphibious Science in Report
Year 3 Amphibious Array deployment in Cascadia.

In October 2014, nearly 90 scientists gathered in Snowbird, Utah to evaluate the ongoing deployment of the Amphibious Array Facilities (AAF) and to chart potential future directions for the array. The AAF were built to resolve critical issues related to the better understanding of coastline systems and their tectonic hazard. These hazards include tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides along coastlines that are often populated. A seismic and geodetic array consisting of 27 broadband onshore seismographs, 60 new broadband ocean-bottom seismographs (OBSs), and upgrades to 232 GPS EarthScope sites was initially deployed across the Cascadia margin of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. 

The workshop identified three major systems, building on recent EarthScope and GeoPRISMS Science Plans: (1) Subduction Factory and Magma Volatiles, (2) Passive Margins and Transform Faults, and (3) Seismogenic Processes at Subduction Margins. The workshop highlighted the many successes of the Amphibious Array deployment so far, and identified several potential future targets for Amphibious Array deployment including the Alaska-Aleutian subduction system, the eastern North American passive margin, and the California transform system. Overall, additional deployments of the Amphibious Array Facilities were seen as having tremendous potential for significant discovery and should be enabled. 

For more information, read the complete Amphibious Array Facility Workshop Report.

EarthScope National Meeting 2015

By Sarah Robinson |
EarthScope National Meeting 2015
Photo of Stowe, Vermont. Photo credit "The World Through Photos".

The EarthScope National Meeting will be held in Stowe, Vermont June 15-17, 2015. Registration will be opening soon! For more information visit the 2015 EarthScope National Meeting page on the IRIS website.

EarthScope at the 2014 AGU meeting

By Sarah Robinson |
EarthScope at the 2014 AGU meeting
EarthScope Town Hall at AGU

A big thanks to all who came to the EarthScope Town Hall at AGU this year! As usual EarthScope had a booth presence in addition to over 150 EarthScope-related talks and posters. The EarthScope National Office chaired an education-related poster session on Tuesday afternoon of the AGU week that featured outreach efforts from EarthScope researchers and educators.

>>> Continue reading "EarthScope at the 2014 AGU meeting"

EarthScope Scientists Identify New Seismic Zone Near Illinois-Missouri Border

By Sarah Robinson |
EarthScope Scientists Identify New Seismic Zone Near Illinois-Missouri Border
In this figure, the dots mark the epicenters of earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater between January 1974 and December 2013. The stars mark the epicenters of earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or greater since 1800. Geological structures identified in the figure include the Ste. Genevieve, New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic areas, Illinois Basin, Ozark Dome (OD) and Reelfoot Rift (RR).

EarthScope's Ozark, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky (OIINK) experiment using Flexible Array seismometers to study the structure and evolution of the mid-continent in a region centered on the Illinois Basin has been receiving quite a bit of media attention over the discovery of a new seismic zone near St. Louis, Missouri. Check out the Indiana University news release, along with the St. Louis Public Radio interview with Gary Pavlis (the lead Indiana University Principle Investigator).

OIINK is a collaborative project involving Indiana University, Purdue University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Illinois State Geological Survey and Indiana Geological Survey.

EarthScope Geochronology Graduate Student Award Program

By Sarah Robinson |

The EarthScope Geochronology Graduate Student Award Program is a new initiative program designed to provide funds for high-impact research and to facilitate training, education, and interaction between graduate students and experts in geochronology.

Graduate students can apply for up to $10,000 to fund analytical costs, sample preparation, travel to the host lab, lodging, and other expenses. These funds will allow the students to visit the lab for a week or more, participate in the analysis and sample preparation, and learn fundamental aspects of the methods, techniques, and theory used in modern analytical facilities. This experience will help to equip the next generation of Earth scientists with an understanding of modern geochronology tools that are profoundly important for conducting modern geoscience research, in particular for examining the history and processes of lithospheric deformation. Students can apply for funds to use whichever method is most appropriate for their proposed research project, including, but not limited to, U-Pb, 40Ar/39Ar, Lu-Hf, Sm-Nd, Rb-Sr, U-series, fission-track, (U-Th)/He, 14C, cosmogenic exposure, and luminescence dating.

The projects and new collaborations enabled by this program provide excellent foundations for future proposals and the kinds of multidisciplinary research efforts that lead to great science. The program will be launched by an EarthScope short course bringing together experts in the geochronology community for a series of lectures and discussions covering the fundamentals behind both the theory and practical uses of different geochronology tools.

Explicit goals of this initiative include:

·       The fostering of new relationships and interdisciplinary, innovative science between student researchers and laboratories at different institutions.

·       The generation of new opportunities for students to learn fundamental aspects of the techniques, theory, and interpretational methods associated with data acquisition in modern analytical facilities.

·       The implementation of a low-cost mechanism for students to generate key, high-quality datasets for projects and publications of mutual benefit to students, advisors, and labs, while laying the foundation for future collaborative proposals.

·       The promotion of science that provides an important contribution to EarthScope's core science goal to investigate the geologic history of the North American continent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply?

Graduate students that are currently enrolled in a research-focused graduate degree program at an accredited college or university in the United States or its territories are encouraged to submit a proposal.

What types of projects will be considered?

Projects must support the overall goals of EarthScope, and therefore focus on advancing some aspect of our understanding of the structure, dynamics, or evolution of the North American continent (

What should applications include?

Applications must include a project description, detailed budget and budget justification, a letter of support from the EarthScope geochronology lab where the applicant proposes to work (see below), student educational outline provided by the lab, and a letter of support from the project supervisor at the student’s institution.

Students who are writing proposals are responsible for initiating contact with geochronology lab staff to discuss their project, timelines, and why this particular technique will help address the fundamental questions in their research proposal. If the lab director feels that this is a mutually beneficial opportunity, they provide a support letter and help the student refine and clarify their proposed research. For more information about applying, visit

The 2015 application deadline is Monday, March 16th, 2015. Application materials should be submitted to

How many projects will be funded? How often can I apply?

Students may submit one proposal per funding cycle (per year), and a maximum of two proposals during their academic career. Presently, there are funds to support 7-8 projects each year for the 2015 and 2016 application cycles.

Which labs are included as participating labs?

A list of labs that have expressed interest in this program and in fostering new collaborations with students are available on the program website ( Because one of the goals of this program is to foster new research collaborations, students may not request funds to work in labs they are already associated with, including labs managed or directed by their project supervisor(s). Students may request funds to work in labs at their home institution, provided that they can demonstrate that the collaboration is new.

Additionally, any lab in the United States or its territories can become a participating lab. Laboratories wishing to participate in the EarthScope Student Geochronology Research and Training Program must provide a brief (1-2 page) written summary that describes how a student will use the facility. Labs should try to provide a realistic overview of what sort of research and learning experiences a student can expect when visiting their lab. This program is not meant to fund contract work, but instead provide a meaningful learning and training experience for the student. Example summaries from the University of Colorado Boulder (UTh)/He lab, the Princeton University U-Pb TIMS lab, and the Utah State University OSL lab are available on the program webpage.

What is the review process?

An external panel of 4-5 geoscientists that are familiar with the application of geochronologic techniques and/or have experience with EarthScope related science will review the proposals. Nominations for the review panel will be sought from the EarthScope Steering Committee, and will not include scientists who run facilities that participate as EarthScope labs. The weighted merit system used to evaluate the proposals will be available on the program website at

When will awards be announced?

We anticipate that the first award announcements will be made in May of 2015.

Who can I contact with questions or concerns?

Jim Metcalf or Becky Flowers.

This new educational initiative is supported by NSF EarthScope EAR-1358514 to Becky Flowers (CU-Boulder), Jim Metcalf (CU-Boulder), Ramon Arrowsmith (ASU), Blair Schoene (Princeton), Tammy Rittenour (USU).