EarthScope’s Plate Boundary Observatory in Alaska: Building on Existing Infrastructure to Provide a Platform for Integrated Research and Hazard-monitoring Efforts

Monday, 15 December 2014
Eleanor S Boyce1, Ryan M Bierma1, Heidi Willoughby1, Karl Feaux2, Glen S Mattioli2,3, Max Enders4 and Robert W Busby5, (1)UNAVCO, Inc. Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, United States, (2)UNAVCO, Inc. Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX, United States, (4)IRIS, Anchorage, AK, United States, (5)IRIS, Washington, DC, United States
EarthScope’s geodetic component in Alaska, the UNAVCO-operated Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) network, includes 139 continuous GPS sites and 41 supporting telemetry relays. These are spread across a vast area, from northern AK to the Aleutians. Forty-five of these stations were installed or have been upgraded in cooperation with various partner agencies and currently provide data collection and transmission for more than one group. Leveraging existing infrastructure normally has multiple benefits, such as easier permitting requirements and costs savings through reduced overall construction and maintenance expenses.

At some sites, PBO-AK power and communications systems have additional capacity beyond that which is needed for reliable acquisition of GPS data. Where permits allow, such stations could serve as platforms for additional instrumentation or real-time observing needs. With the expansion of the Transportable Array (TA) into Alaska, there is increased interest to leverage existing EarthScope resources for station co-location and telemetry integration. Because of the complexity and difficulty of long-term O&M at PBO sites, however, actual integration of GPS and seismic equipment must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

UNAVCO currently operates two integrated GPS/seismic stations in collaboration with the Alaska Earthquake Center, and three with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. By the end of 2014, PBO and TA plan to install another four integrated and/or co-located geodetic and seismic systems. While three of these are designed around existing PBO stations, one will be a completely new TA installation, providing PBO with an opportunity to expand geodetic data collection in Alaska within the limited operations and maintenance phase of the project.

We will present some of the design considerations, outcomes, and lessons learned from past and ongoing projects to integrate seismometers and other instrumentation at PBO-Alaska stations. Developing the PBO network as a platform for ongoing research and hazard monitoring equipment may also continue to serve the needs of the research community and the public beyond the sun-setting and completion of EarthScope science plan in 2018.