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Western Idaho Shear Zone: is snow in the forecast?

FlexArray Experiment: Western Idaho Shear Zone

If this photo (below) of a 6' 1" tall individual looking up at the top of the solar panel mast doesn't cause one to wonder how much snow the mountains near Cornucopia, Oregon receive, a Snow Cat (below left) at a nearby lodge certain makes it's clear - lots of it. This temporary seismic station installed in the mountains of eastern Oregon is part of Dr. Ray Russo's Western Idaho Shear Zone Earthscope Flexible Array experiment. Spanning eastern Oregon to eastern Idaho, the seismic network covers arguably some of the most remote and rugged mountains of the contiguous United States.


Cornucopia, Oregon.  The solar panel mast stands approximate 5 meters high so as to ensure the solar panels, which power the seismic station, remain above significant snow accumulations typical in the area.






Dr. Ray Russo of the University of Florida, Dr. Victor Mocanu of the University of Bucharest, and several graduate students, with PASSCAL field support, have completed the 2nd stage of station installation this past Fall.  The project will examine the structure that bounds Precambrian North America in the eastern Oregon-western Idaho region, the Salmon River suture, by studying the effects of the regional geology on seismic waves emanating from distance earthquakes which the network records.


Cornucopia, Oregon.  A Tucker Snow Cat sends quite the message regarding snow fall and accumulation near the site.


Broadband sensor installed utilizing the direct burial technique.  The sensor is buried in damp sand, which is tamped to ensure minimal setting occurs, prior to being covered with soil.  Typical depth to the base of sensor is on the order of 0.8 - 0.9 m.


Salmon River Mountains west of Challis, Idaho.  Formidable snow accumulations to which some of the stations within the network will be exposed.


Each station in the network has been installed utilizing the direct burial technique for sensor emplacement.  Motivations for use of the technique include a substantial savings with respect to installation time and expense.  Under ideal conditions stations may be installed in less than one hour with a fraction of the materials required of a typical temporary sensor vault.  Preliminary studies of data recorded by sensors installed utilizing the technique indicate ambient noise characteristics are comparable to that of data recorded by sensors installed in typical temporary seismic vaults.

Interested in the project's data?  Look for network XT, station L29, located near John Day, Oregon, as its data are open to data requests at the IRIS DMC.


John Day, Oregon.  On the west side the network, Victor Mocanu, Katee Neesmith, Ray Russo and George Slad complete their first install as a training exercise before forming separate install teams.