Project seeks a better image inside Earth

Aug 24, 2010 By Dennis Walikainen
USArray Map of Upper Midwest region, where Michigan Tech will be involved.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists are installing underground seismographs across the US to glean better information about the Earth's interior, and Michigan Tech is deeply into it.

Greg Waite, assistant professor in the geological and mining engineering and sciences department, is part of the USArray project, which seeks to characterize deep earth structure and the source of earthquakes.

“Many people are surprised to know how much we can learn about earthquakes and Earth structure by recording them in the Upper Peninsula,” says Waite. “Signals from moderate to large earthquakes all over the world produce energy that propagates through the deep Earth and can be recorded anywhere.”

The Transportable Array, part of a project called EarthScope, funded by the National Science Foundation, is placing 400 of the broadband seismometers across the US in a grid pattern. The seismometers are sunk seven feet in a 42-inch diameter tank with concrete base. Each recording station also features an eight-foot mast with solar panels, and they'll be used for two years.

The stations have been placed, moving west to east, since 2004 and will eventually occupy about 2,000 locations across the continental United States and Alaska over a 10-to-12-year period.

By analyzing the data from the sensors, scientists can learn about Earth structure and dynamics and the physical processes controlling earthquakes and volcanoes, Waite says. Each station will also record low-frequency pressure in the atmosphere to enhance understanding of atmospheric structure.

Two students from Michigan Tech, Marika Dalton and Andrea Dixon, have spent the summer finding locations for the in the UP and northern Wisconsin.

“It was really interesting, due to the requirements of placing a station,” Dixon said. “The stations had to be away from trees, roads, and marshy areas—which in many cases left very few places to put a station. We got to talk to a lot of people, and they taught us as much about the land and areas they lived in as we told them about the project.”

Michigan Tech’s involvement has just begun and will include helping place stations in the upper Midwest in 2011.

“This project has just started in our region. I’m looking forward to a involving a lot of our students in this work over the next several years,” Waite says.

Explore further: Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New way to track quakes

Sep 08, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Edinburgh scientists have developed a new technique to monitor movements beneath the Earth's surface.

Ancient rock collisions may have formed Western Australia

Mar 30, 2007

A new 3D picture of the geology of Western Australia, captured by measuring seismic waves from deep in the Earth’s crust, has provided evidence that it was created when vast regions of ancient world slammed into each other.

Deadly Mine 'Bump' was Recorded as Seismic Event

Aug 17, 2007

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations recorded a magnitude-1.6 seismic event at the time of a Thursday, Aug. 16 "bump" that killed and injured rescuers at a Utah coal mine where six miners were trapped by an Aug. 6 ...

Recommended for you

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

12 hours ago

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

12 hours ago

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Image: Grand Canyon geology lessons on view

19 hours ago

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of ...

First radar vision for Copernicus

19 hours ago

Launched on 3 April, ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first radar images of Earth. They offer a tantalising glimpse of the kind of operational imagery that this new mission will provide ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...