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New Mexico Tech to Expand PASSCAL Instrument Center

Daniel H. López, president of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech) in Socorro, authorized the expansion of the on-campus building that houses the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center and the EarthScope Array Operations Facility. The 1300 square foot addition, scheduled for completion in Spring 2009, will primarily provide laboratory and office space for PASSCAL’s recently expanded Polar Program activities supported primarily by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs.

The PASSCAL Instrument Center at New Mexico Tech supports state-of-the-art, low-power, portable seismic instrumentation for investigator-driven experiments worldwide. The extreme environments found in Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska, and other polar locales require a level of support that is several times that needed in other environments. The new addition to the Instrument Center will support efforts to develop successful cold station deployment strategies, assist in the development and testing of -55°C-rated seismic equipment, establish a pool of instruments for use in cold environments, and create a repository for cold station techniques and test data for seismologists and others in the polar sciences community.

Operating similar to a “lending library,” the PASSCAL facility currently has about 1100 broadband, intermediate period, short period, and high frequency sensors, more than 800 data acquisition systems, and nearly 1000 single channel active source “Texan” instruments, as well as communications systems and various ancillary equipment. The co-located USArray Operations Facility at the Instrument Center supports EarthScope’s 400-station Transportable Array, as well as the complementary USArray Flexible Array of 326 broadband, 120 short-period, and 1700 active source instruments that are available for focused EarthScope investigations.

In addition to hardware support, PASSCAL staff provides instrument design, maintenance, field logistics, software development, and training to support seismic research. Since it was established more than 20 years ago, PASSCAL has supported more than 500 experiments that have led to a host of new discoveries about the Earth. The PASSCAL Instrument Center is directed by Bruce Beaudoin, and Rick Aster, Professor of Geophysics and Chair of New Mexico Tech’s Earth and Environmental Science Department, is the Principal Investigator.

Rendering of the addition to be built at the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center.

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