2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


VAN DER VINK, Gregory E., EarthScope, 1200 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005 and SMITH, Robert B., Department of Geology and Geophysics, Univ of Utah, 135 So. 1460 East, Rm. 702, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, gvdv@earthscope.org

EarthScope is now underway, taking a comprehensive “systems” approach to understanding the tectonics of the North American continent at all scales – from the active nucleation zone of earthquakes, to individual faults and volcanoes, to the deformation along the plate boundary, and to the structure of the continent. The project is unprecedented, both in its interdisciplinary approach to Geoscience and in its scope. With approximately $200 million in funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Major Research and Facility Construction account, EarthScope will be developed over the next five years and is anticipated by NSF to be operating for an additional 15 years. EarthScope has begun collecting multiple data sets that will allow us to study the transition from plate-scale tectonic interactions to small-scale system level processes such as individual faults and volcanoes, and how they interact. From a “data collection” perspective, EarthScope is being implemented through the parallel construction of multiple observational systems. A four-kilometer deep observatory bored directly into the San Andreas fault at Parkfield has broken ground and is providing the first opportunity to observe directly the conditions under which earthquakes occur, to collect fault rocks and fluids for laboratory study, and to monitor continuously with seismic stations and strainmeters an active fault from within the earthquake zone. A network of continuously recording Global Positioning System receivers, borehole strain meters, borehole seismic stations, and meteorological instrument packages is being installed along the western US plate boundary. A network of seismographic stations, GPS reference marks and magneto-telluric instruments is being deployed to migrate slowly across the United States, eventually occupying 2,000 sites over the next ten years. Additional seismic and geodetic instrumentation will soon be available to individual PIs for high-resolution imaging in areas of special geologic interest. EarthScope data is freely and openly available to maximize participation from the scientific community and to provide on-going educational opportunities at all grade levels. The instrumentation and data collection facilities will provide a unique opportunity to address the scientific questions associated with the Rocky Mountains.