Earthscope’s mission is to explore the structure and evolution of the North American continent.  Their chief tool is the portable array of 400 seismometers, USArray, rolling across the country from west to east.  The us array 1first footprint was established in 2007 in the western-most U.S.  Since then the stations have rolled on and are now deployed from Texas and North Dakota in the west to Alabama and Wisconsin in the east.

Data from USArray fuels models of the structure, i.e.,  fault distribution and geometry, of the Earth’s crust.  If that seems a bit esoteric, those data provide insight into seismic, volcanic and landslide hazards in the continental U.S.  This type of large-scale science research has the potential to benefit us all directly or indirectly for generations. 

Check out this really fascinating animation of USArray capture of seismic wave propagation from an M 6.0 earthquake near Wells, Nevada on 21 February 2008 (animation).  Us array crustal structure

Background.   From the USArray website, “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%.”

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Michael Conway (21 August 2011)