June 1, 2008

How Does HPWREN help the Global Seismographic Network?

By Peter Davis, Executive Director, Project IDA, UCSD SIO IGPP

Project IDA (International Deployment of Accelerometers) is currently funded by NSF via a subaward from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) to operate 40 stations of the Global Seismographic Network (GSN). The goal of this effort is to maintain a network of state-of-the-art seismic stations spaced at 2000 km intervals around the world. GSN data are used to study the seismic structure of the Earth and to determine accurately the location and magnitude of earthquakes. Data are also streamed to international agencies charged with issuing tsunami hazard warnings and with monitoring compliance with nuclear test ban treaties.

A key IDA station is located at UCSD's Piñon Flat Observatory in the high desert east of San Diego. IDA uses HPWREN to retrieve data streams from seismometers at the station and distribute them to users around the world. The suite of sensors at this station, which include microbarographs and magnetic field sensors, is broader than at a typical GSN station so that the effects of air pressure and magnetic field changes upon standard GSN seismometers may be better understood. IDA staff also study the performance of new instrumentation in the quiet conditions that exist in the Seismic Test Facility (STF) at Piñon Flat.

Without the flexibility that HPWREN provides to reconfigure on short notice the nodes on the STF LAN, we would not be able to install or redeploy the variety of equipment we routinely test and operate at this facility.

Photos of a recent upgrade to the GSN data acquisition system within the Seismic Test Facility at Piñon Flat. The very sensitive sensors are placed on a granite pier mechanically isolated from the rest of the building and connected to specialized electronics at left that stream the data to users world-wide via HPWREN. At right, IDA engineer Todd Johnson inspects the quality of the data flowing into the laptop held by David Chavez.

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