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About PASSCAL

PASSCAL Facility

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Program for Array Seismic Studies of the Continental Lithosphere (PASSCAL) Instrument Center and EarthScope USArray Array Operations Facility (AOF) at New Mexico Tech support cutting-edge seismological research into Earth’s fundamental geological structure and processes. The facility provides instrumentation for National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and otherwise funded seismological experiments around the world. PASSCAL experiment support includes seismic instrumentation, equipment maintenance, software, data archiving, training, logistics, and field installation.

Continued expansion of IRIS activities at New Mexico Tech via the EarthScope and other initiatives has spurred a major facility expansion, the EarthScope USArray Array Operations Facility. The AOF was officially dedicated on April 6, 2005 by the New Mexico Tech administration and the IRIS Board of Directors. The combined PASSCAL Instrument Center and AOF currently support a total of 33 professional New Mexico Tech staff, as well as a contingent of student workers.

PASSCAL and USArray Flexible Array equipment is available to any research or educational institution to use for research purposes within the guidelines of established policies. These policies provide that data collected with PASSCAL and/or USArray equipment be archived at the IRIS Data Management Center and that the data are openly available to the community. Instruments can be requested online using the PASSCAL Instrument Request Forms.

Recent News

Field Operations Scheduler at IRIS/PASSCAL Instrument Center at New Mexico Tech

The IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center at New Mexico Tech is seeking applicants to fill a part-time position of Field Operations Scheduler.

Core responsibilities include: international shipping/small packages; maintain shipping log details/electronic files and freight forwarder invoicing; submit international and domestic shipping invoices to IRIS with project rebill details; export compliance support; maintain shipping records/documents to assure files are “audit ready” for compliance check; communicate with warehouse personnel regarding incoming and outgoing international shipments; aid in assuring palletized equipment is ready for export according to international shipping rules/regulations; and “Custom Detail” web page support.

Passing of Former PASSCAL Program Manager Jim Fowler

Jim Fowler passed away on February 25, 2014 after a lengthy battle with cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Jim began his career at IRIS consortium (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) in 1985 as Chief Engineer in Washington, DC, and later became the first manager for the PASSCAL portable instrument program. In 1999, after New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology was selected to operate the IRIS/PASSCAL Instrument Center, the nation’s sole lending library for research seismological instrumentation, Jim moved back to his home state of New Mexico. Jim stepped down as the PASSCAL Program Manager in October 2010 after 25 years in that position, but continued as Senior Advisor for Engineering and Instrumentation until he retired in February 2013 and moved back to Maryland.

Transantarctic Mountains Deployments

 

Audrey Huerta, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at Central Washington University, has graciously provided some videos of recent installations and deployments in the Transantarctic Mountains. They include footage of using a chain saw to deploy solar panels in the ice, a time lapse of a polar seismic system installation, and thermochronology sampling while rappelling.

(Photograph courtesy NSF)

Seismometer Specialist at the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center

The IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center at New Mexico Tech is seeking applicants to fill the position of Seismometer Specialist. The position will be filled either at an introductory level or a senior level depending on applicant’s qualifications. Responsibilities include repair and testing of broadband and intermediate seismometers, and maintenance of high-frequency geophones. User support and fieldwork are an essential part of the position.

We are seeking self-motivated individuals able to work in a multitasking environment, and comfortable interacting with the seismological community both to provide support and to help users determine the appropriate equipment to meet their scientific goals. Successful candidates are: willing to travel for up to one month to support seismic experiments in remote, international field locations; able to work well in stressful situations; and are able to work both independently and as part of a team.

Getting It Perfect at OIINK

Gary Pavlis and Terry Stigall of Indiana University are proud of their geophysics students. The students were helping them to deploy some new direct-burial stations with Trillium broadband sensors for the OIINK project (a.k.a. SDYNAC, "Structure and Dynamics of the North American Craton"), and Terry directed them to get them perfectly level and lined up to north accurately. The students outdid themselves, and helped to make this a superb installation.

These students are from Gary Pavlis' Applied Geophysics class. They spent a weekend installing stations for the OIINK project.

Clockwise from upper right: Tyler Merrell, Steven Downey, Crystal Wespestad, and Brenden Fenerty.

Photographs courtesy Terry Stigall.

RefTek GPS Alert


Dear PASSCAL Users:

This note is to alert all past and current users of RefTek RT130 hardware that these instruments have been experiencing GPS failures in-field. To date, the failures are geographically confined to East Africa and symptoms include intermittent or total loss of timing.

It is worth noting that in reviewing close to two years of repair records, 1303 GPS have been returned to PIC from 69 experiments, excluding those in East Africa, and the total number of GPS units that needed any type of maintenance or repair was 30. There is no evidence at this time that there is a global problem with our RefTek GPS.

We are recommending that all users of PASSCAL RefTek RT130 dataloggers review their data and log files for signs of GPS failure that are consistent with the failures seen in East Africa. To identify failure behavior please visit this page for a brief tutorial. If you identify failures in your data, please contact passcal [at] passcal [dot] nmt [dot] edu and include "RT130 GPS failure" in the subject line and unit serial numbers in the body of the email.

Education and Public Outreach at PASSCAL - French School Visit

On Friday, November 1st 2013, a group of students and teachers from Bethesda, Maryland's Lycée Rochambeau/ French International School visited the IRIS/PASSCAL facility on Socorro NM for some hands-on demonstrations of how seismic measurements are used to "see" geological strata underground.  The class, led by instructor Marc Roux, head of the Biology and Geology Department, were assisted by PASSCAL scientists Greg Chavez and Michael Johnson during the deployment of a long string of geophones and a multi-channel data acquisition system.  The students then used heavy hammers to produce active source tremors, and then were able to see the seismic responses in real time.  The class assembled in the PASSCAL conference room to hear PASSCAL scientists/data specialists Dr. Wallis Hutton and KatyLiz Anderson discuss how such measurements can be used to find the depth of subsurface structures like the Moho.  The visit was capped with a tour of the PASSCAL facility, led by scientist/software engineer Dave Thomas. (Photo: student Salomé Carcy; credit: Dr. Wallis Hutton)

Nature Magazine Marks Transportable Array Milestone

A November 5th article in the prestigious journal Nature discusses a major milestone in the Transportable Array project. In her article "US seismic array eyes its final frontier," Nature's Alexandra Witze writes

On Maine’s rugged coast, just north of the tourist town of Boothbay, an underground seismometer is listening for earthquakes. Engineers activated it on 26 September, completing the US$90-million Transportable Array, an ambitious effort to blanket the contiguous United States with a moveable grid of seismic monitors ... "As the array has moved, the whole picture of what’s under North America has gotten much sharper," says Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) in Washington DC, which operates the stations.

P.I. Transition coming to the IRIS/PASSCAL Instrument Center

After 15 years of shepherding the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center as Principal Investigator, Rick Aster will be leaving NM Tech to begin a new phase of his career at Colorado State University as Geosciences Department Head, beginning in January of 2014. Principal Investigator duties will be assumed by Susan Bilek, Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science beginning October 1, 2013. After moving to Colorado, Rick will remain engaged with IRIS as an active community member and as Chair of the Data Management System Standing Committee, and will continue to interact with Sue, NM Tech, and the Instrument Center on continuing projects and as a user of IRIS facilities for Antarctic and other research.

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