Things are Shaking! Seismology at Five Rivers

Earthquake Monitoring at Five Rivers

If you enjoy walking along the Wild Turkey Trail you may have noticed something odd has made an appearance. As you round the turn at the northwest corner of the field you surely have noticed a solar panel, 8 foot tall towers, a small fence… what’s that all about? What you are seeing is only the above ground portion of a high quality, portable seismograph. It is part of a USArray of 400 stations placed across the continental U.S., southern Canada, and Alaska.

What you don’t see is the seismometer, data acquisition system, and communication equipment buried 7 feet in the ground in a 42” diameter plastic pipe. These instruments measure vibrations in the ground. They are sensitive enough to pick up background vibrations such as those generated by wind to local, regional, and distant earthquakes. This data is transmitted via the cellular and Global Positioning System (GPS) antennae visible above ground. The entire station is powered by the solar panel. The EarthScope earthquake monitoring station is constructed, operated, and maintained by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) with funds from the National Science Foundation.

The data from the Five Rivers station, when combined with hundreds of others across the continent will help scientists map a three-dimensional image of what is occurring below the surface of the earth. You can find out more about how the system works through the link below. If you would like to see a graph of movement from the Five Rivers station go to another link listed below and enter K60A as the station code. The times listed are Greenwich Mean Times so simply read from the upper left (24 hours ago) to bottom right (current time) and you will get a chronological record of vertical movement right here at Five Rivers.

We will be working with the IRIS Public Outreach Manager to determine how best to integrate the seismic monitoring station and the data generated into our education programs and exhibit space. IRIS’s Education and Public Outreach page has a number of educational resources worth exploring (link below). If anyone has any suggestions or comments please feel free to give Center Director Ray Perry a call or drop by the education building. We’re not afraid to shake things up!

The Earthscope Transportable Array

USArray has a large traveling network of 400 high-quality, portable seismographs that are being placed in temporary sites across the United States in a rolling fashion in a configuration called the "Transportable Array". Transportable Array data are extremely useful for mapping the structure of Earth's uppermost 70 km. The array was initially deployed in the westernmost United States. Unless adopted and made into a permanent installation, after 18-24 months, each instrument is picked up and moved to the next carefully spaced array location to the east. When completed, over 2000 locations will have been occupied during this program. More information about adopting a station can be found at the USArray webpage on adopted stations.

Each of the Transportable Array stations consists of a three-component broadband seismometer with associated signal processing, power, and communications equipment. In the early phase of the experiment, significant effort was devoted to the design of the temporary vaults to house the instruments, which resulted in a configuration that provides both high-quality data and a data return of greater than 90%. Data from each station are continuously transmitted to the Array Network Facility at the University of California, San Diego, where initial operational and quality checks are performed, and then sent to the IRIS Data Management Center, where all data and associated metadata are archived.

For more information:

Find out more about how the system works here.

If you would like to see a graph of movement from the Five Rivers station click here and and enter K60A as the station code.

IRIS’s Education and Public Outreach page.

Earthscope: Five Rivers Station Information.

Earthscope Transportable Array information