EarthScope (2003-2018) was a program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that has deployed thousands of seismic, GPS, and other geophysical instruments to study the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the processes that cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It involves collaboration between scientists, educators, policy makers, and the public to learn about and apply exciting scientific discoveries as they are made.
EarthScope comprises three inter-linking components: 1) EarthScope facilities operated by the UNAVCO and IRIS consortia, 2) a research program that supports PI-led investigations, and 3) an investigator community coordinated by an academic EarthScope National Office, that actively participates in science planning, research, and facility governance.
Our vision was to use North America as a natural laboratory to gain fundamental insight as to how the Earth operates. The complexity of Earth's geologic processes requires contributions from investigators across the earth sciences working as individuals and as members of multidisciplinary collaborative teams.
Our goal was to enable and encourage scientists to study the Earth in creative new ways, allow innovative ideas to thrive, and ultimately provide new insights into the past, present, and future of the planet we live on.
Instrumentation & Data
To meet EarthScope's scientific goals, a variety of geophysical instrumentation has been installed across the country, including a 3.2km borehole into the San Andreas Fault. The EarthScope Facility acquires, delivers, and archives data, develops data analysis protocols and products, provides engineering services for field instrument deployment, and organizes community forums. The freely available, high precision data allow scientists to describe how geological forces shaped North America's landscape and contribute to the public's understanding of our dynamic Earth. These data can be viewed as the most important legacy of the National Science Foundation's largest investment in solid earth science.
Science & Research
Through the NSF, the EarthScope Science program sponsors a broad range of PI-driven research and workshops, with a particular focus on multidisciplinary efforts driven by EarthScope data sets. EarthScope scientists use state-of-the-art instruments and methods to collect data from seismic waves, crustal movements, Earth's magnetic field, rock and soil samples, and images obtained from aircraft and satellites. Scientists then analyze these diverse sets of data in combination with innovative laboratory experiments and theoretical modeling. The research produces transformative knowledge that helps to better explain geological phenomena, develop better warning system against natural hazards, and locate economically-vital resources. The EarthScope research community is a growing, broad, and diverse body, that facilitates innovative research, informal and formal education, and governance of EarthScope facilities.
Education & Outreach
The expertise, enthusiasm, and findings of the EarthScope community constitute an increasingly rich resource for enhancing Earth Science education in formal (K-12, college, university) and informal (parks, museums, media) settings. The EarthScope National Office education and outreach program facilitates dissemination of EarthScope science to the broader scientific community, educators, the public and the media.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds EarthScope. EarthScope was constructed, operated, and maintained in alliance with UNAVCO, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), and conducted in partnership with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well as other organizations. Several international organizations also contribute to the initiative.