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Active Seismic Sources Committee Charge

Charge of the Advisory Committee on PASSCAL Active Seismic Sources

The Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology (IRIS) currently provides seismic recording instruments to the academic and government seismology research community. Although much of the community’s seismology research is carried out in a “passive” mode of operation, in which researchers are recording seismic signals from natural or ambient seismic sources, a subset of the IRIS community relies on “active” seismic sources in which the researchers generate seismic signals using a variety of mechanical and chemical sources.

IRIS is currently not involved in providing seismic sources to the research community in any meaningful way; the seismic sources are generally rented or purchased by the researchers for use with the PASSCAL recording equipment, or are provided by U.S government or international collaborators. This can seriously circumscribe the activities of U.S. researchers engaged in active source seismology. The IRIS PASSCAL Standing Committee would like an Advisory Committee to determine whether and to what extent IRIS should provide “active” seismic sources to the research community.

The committee is charged with advising the PASSCAL Standing Committee, the IRIS President and the IRIS Board of Directors on the need for active seismic sources to support research in crustal/lithospheric structure and related investigations.

In particular, the committee should report on whether PASSCAL should provide seismic sources to the IRIS community, what seismic sources if any should be supported by PASSCAL, what potential capital and operating costs are involved, and what the role of PASSCAL personnel will be in providing those sources.

The committee is requested to submit a draft report to the PASSCAL Standing Committee by the fall 2009 meeting.

In fulfilling its charge, the committee should consider the potential benefits to the IRIS community, the potential risks and liabilities to the IRIS organization and its member institutions, the availability of seismic sources in the open market, and the specific role that PASSCAL personnel should have in maintaining and operating seismic sources. The committee should seek input from the greater IRIS community, and others, to understand the benefits, risks and costs involved in providing seismic sources.

The committee should consider whether researchers currently outside of the IRIS community will become part of the community if seismic sources are supported by PASSCAL.

The committee should recommend several potential models for PASSCAL support of seismic sources, with each scenario outlining the specific seismic sources and the level of staff involvement in the permitting, operation and maintenance of these sources, as well as the cost of acquiring and maintaining these sources. These potential models should clearly spell out the relationship and responsibilities of the non-IRIS Principal Investigators and PASSCAL personnel.

The committee should also estimate the amount of PASSCAL staff time and monetary costs that will need to be devoted to permitting, maintaining and operating seismic sources in support of the IRIS community. Such estimates need to be made for several potential levels of PASSCAL involvement for different combinations of seismic sources, as recommended in the preceding scenarios.

Finally, the committee should consider whether there are potential seismic sources that are not currently used in standard geophysical research that might be developed or utilized by IRIS to broaden the scope and capabilities of the research seismology community.


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