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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

Staff Scientist / Seismic Projects Engineer

The IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center at New Mexico Tech is seeking applicants to fill the position of Staff Scientist/Seismic Projects Engineer. Primary responsibility is to support Transportable Array engineering projects both in the lab and in the field.

Duties include: Design and fabrication of specialized equipment; Transportable Array field support; test, develop and apply methods for testing seismic instrumentation and ancillary scientific equipment; produce reports, and maintain documentation and web content related to testing of scientific equipment.

PASSCAL Scientist Describes Working in Antarctica for Enthusiastic Library Audience

On June 23, 2014, PASSCAL Senior Staff Scientist/Polar Project Field Engineer Dean Childs gave a talk on "Working in Antarctica" to an absorbed audience at the Socorro Public Library.

Dean's talk ran 1 hour and 45 minutes, including a followup Q&A. He discussed several topics with the 25+ attendees, who ranged in age from 7 to 70.

Staff Scientist/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 Staff Scientist/Seismometer Specialist.

Job Duties:
Primary 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, which also includes assistance with other hardware tasks as needed.
 

PASSCAL Posters at 2014 IRIS Workshop, June 8-11, in Sunriver, Oregon

There will be several presentations by PASSCAL staff at the 2014 IRIS Workshop, June 8-11, in Sunriver, Oregon.  If you can't see these posters in person in Oregon, have a look at them via the links below.

Employment Opportunity at IRIS PASSCAL: Data Specialist

The IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center at New Mexico Tech solicits applications for a professional Staff Scientist/Data Specialist for seismology support operations. The PASSCAL Instrument Center supports both controlled and passive source seismology worldwide with end-to-end experiment support services, state-of-the-art portable seismic instrumentation, and advanced field and database management tools.

IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center Presentations at the Seismological Society of America 2014 Meeting

Several staff members of the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center are making presentations at this year's Seismological Society of America Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

Here follow abstracts for our three presentations, along with links to the posters.

 

 

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)

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.

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