The Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) is the geodetic component of the EarthScope project, designed to study the 3D strain field across the active boundary zone between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates in the western United States. Data from PBO's integrated network of GPS stations, strainmeters and seismometers, coupled with aerial and satellite imagery, are providing important temporal constraints on plate boundary deformation and are improving our knowledge of the fundamental physics that govern deformation, faulting, and fluid transport in earth’s lithosphere. For more information, visit the PBO project page at UNAVCO.
While GPS measures millimeter-scale ground movement on time scales of days to decades and over large spatial scales, borehole strainmeters measure strain change by sensing changes in the shape of an instrument cemented into rock. They play a central role in observing the deformation that accompanies and precedes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Long-baseline laser strainmeters measure the change in distance between two points several hundred meters apart on the Earth's surface. Laser strainmeters have the high resolution of the borehole strainmeters combined with the long-term stability of GPS measurements.
Animations & Videos developed by UNAVCO in partnership with many organizations.
Interactive Data & Mapping Tools
Data for Educators provides a map with links to interesting hi-precision GPS data, visualization tools, educational materials which incorporate this data.
Educational Resources include activities and lab exercises for secondary education (grades 6 - 12) and undergraduate courses.
GEodesy Tools for Societal Issues (GETSI) Education Resources shows the teaching resouces being developed for engaging undergraduate students in addressing societally important Earth science questions through the use of geodetic data.
Science Snapshots – are brief science, technology, and engineering summaries of science discoveries that use geodetic technologies, covering topics of solid earth, the cryosphere, environmental & hydrogeodesy, the ocean and atmosphere, human dimensions, and technology. Supports reading literacy of students.
Highlights – are short articles that feature examples of the engineering and instrumentation used for science research, including field work, outreach, new services, major community meetings, and event responses.
To determine how features seen at Earth’s surface correlate with structural and compositional differences deep within the planet, seismologists need denser networks of seismic stations so that they are recording seismic waves that propagate through finer and finer slices of the earth beneath them. This information will also enable scientists to link structures inherited from earlier stages of continental formation to known and potential geologic hazards (e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides). The USArray consist of four important obervatories: Transportable, Flexible and Magnetotelluric Arrays as well as a Reference Network.
USArray consists of of a portable array (the Transportable Array) of 400 seismometers that have been deployed across the United States over a 10-year period. In addition a "flexible component" array will be available to be deployed in areas where a denser network of seismometers is required. The Magnetotelluric Transportable (MT) Array comprises shorter-period investigations at hundreds of sites in the continental USA. Data from these sites are collected on a regular schedule through recovery of data storage modules.
IRIS has multiple online tools that allow you to learn about global and regional seismicity.
Recent Earthquake Map
Interactive Earthquake Browser (IEB)
Recent Earthquake Teachable Moments (RETM)
Special Events Page