STUDENT-LED SITING OF THE EARTHSCOPE TRANSPORTABLE ARRAY: A MID-ATLANTIC PERSPECTIVE
MEIER, Bethany1, STEELE, Peter2, KROPP, Timothy1, BAILEY, Christopher3 and WHITMEYER, Steve4, (1)Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, (2)Geology, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185, (3)Department of Geology, College of William & Mary, P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795, (4)Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, 395 S. High St, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer 2012 was the final round of student-led siting efforts for the NSF-funded EarthScope Transportable Array in the continental United States. Beginning in 2005, EarthScope and IRIS began installing and then “leapfrogging” an array of broadband seismometers from west to east across the US. Each summer, student teams from local colleges and universities were hired to scout out locations for next deployment of seismometers. This past summer eight teams from colleges up and down the East Coast worked to find approximately 200 sites for seismometers in advance of their installation beginning in Fall 2012. Each team was responsible for locating 24 to 26 sites in their region. The VA-1 team consisted of three students from James Madison University and the College of William & Mary and had 25 seismometer sites to locate in West Virginia and Virginia. Sites were spaced 70 km apart with a 10 km radius of tolerance around the proposed location for each seismometer. ArcGIS was used to map out the potential site locations based on criteria to limit seismic noise, such as being 3 km from railroads, 1.5 km from highways, 2 km from natural gas pumping stations, and twice the height of any nearby trees. Field work incorporated driving to the general site locations and scouting potential sites using GPS and Google Earth. After locating a possible site the team talked to the landowner and worked with them to find the best place on their land for the seismometer. Reports were written up detailing the precise location, the construction process, and any issues with seismic noise in the area or landowner requests regarding the site. Once the report was filed, the students’ job was over unless a site had to be relocated.
This project was an eye-opening experience for our team. Our experiences ranged from wonderful southern hospitality from the locals to an incident involving a bush and a Suburban. We were exposed to new social situations and learned to adapt our approach depending on whom we were talking too. Overall, the college students’ role within the EarthScope Transportable Array project was an important educational outreach effort to the public. By talking to many different landowners, information about EarthScope and IRIS reached new audiences that would likely have never heard about it otherwise.