MAKING COMPLEX EARTH PROCESSES ACCESSIBLE TO GENERAL AUDIENCES THROUGH A HANDS-ON MUSEUM EXHIBIT IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Visitors use hands-on models to explore the build up and release of strain in the landscape and some of the technologies used to measure these changes. In one exhibit component, visitors compress a model of the Pacific Northwest to feel the build up of strain in the landscape and observe the movement of land over time. Supporting panels connect this movement to the measurements currently being observed by the PBO network of GPS stations in the Pacific Northwest. In a related exhibit element, visitors learn about the recurrence interval for earthquakes at the Juan De Fuca - North America plate boundary by turning a handle to slowly move and compress plates until a simulated earthquake occurs. A related component explores how an earthquake early warning system (EEWS) of the future might combine both seismometers and GPS position data to allow people and communities time to prepare for oncoming ground shaking and tsunami after an earthquake. Several technologies are also highlighted throughout the exhibit, including information panels that compare the accuracy of high precision GPS with smartphone technologies. Additionally, models of a full-sized PBO GPS monument and power and communication systems demonstrate the technology supporting real-time GPS data acquisition and rapid data transfer required for current research and future EEWS centers. An accompanying interactive kiosk provides additional content. The presentation will provide more details about the exhibit components and preliminary visitor feedback.