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Final Celebration of the Successes of EarthScope

Written by Donna Charlevoix
23 May 2019

Scientists, community members, National Science Foundation (NSF) staff and representatives of federal agencies gathered in Washington, D.C. May 21-22 to celebrate the successes of EarthScope. EarthScope was an NSF program designed to study the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the processes that cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The many scientific advances made throughout the 15-year history of the project (2003-2018) included unexpected discoveries and applications beyond the initial goals, resulting from a scientific infrastructure unprecedented in Earth science in the U.S. The open data policy of EarthScope transformed geoscience, providing a foundation for many scientists, including graduate students, to build their research portfolios and better understand earth hazards.

The Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) – operated by UNAVCO – was one of three EarthScope observatories designed to collect data that would be openly distributed to the scientific community. PBO was comprised of more than 1200 geodetic instruments installed throughout the western U.S., with the goal of defining tectonic motions resulting from the plate boundaries along Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. While the EarthScope project has ended, the massive efforts that went into installing, maintaining, and upgrading PBO will continue to pay off. In addition to the rich data resources already available, most of PBO has been incorporated into the Network of the Americas, a federated, multinational network managed by the NSF Geodetic Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience, operated by UNAVCO. The network, which has become a national asset and part of the core reference network, will continue to be maintained and all old and new station data will continute to be available through the UNAVCO Data Archive.

Two events highlighted the broad successes of EarthScope. On Tuesday, May 21, a briefing in the U.S. Senate featured the broader impacts of the EarthScope program in particular as they relate to policy and natural hazards. On Wednesday, May 22, a Science Symposium held at AAAS featured speakers summarizing the transformational science and education and outreach of EarthScope.

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Last modified: 2020-01-28  22:54:05  America/Denver