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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Geophysics Team Participates in Continent-Wide Seismic Probe

A team of UALR geophysics students led by Dr. Hanan Mahdi, research assistant professor at UALR’s Graduate Institute of Technology, will be part of a national seismic research project funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate deep seismic activity throughout the North American continent.

The UALR team of three graduate students and one undergraduate will join teams from the University of Minnesota, the University of Northern Iowa, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette to find appropriate sites to host seismic recording stations for USArray, a NSF-funded deep geophysical investigation that spans the entire North American continent.

The array is a network of 400 high-quality, portable broadband seismometers that are being placed 70 km apart in temporary sites across the U.S. in a leapfrog fashion from west to east.

The seismic study is part of EarthScope, a large research project funded by the National Science Foundation. The USArray was started in 2004 along the west coast and will eventually occupy about 2,000 locations across the continental United States and Alaska over a 10-to-12-year period.

“This array is a network of seismometers deployed across the U.S. to record earthquakes and provides high-resolution images of the deep interior of the continent just like CT scans which provide images of the interior of the human body,” Mahdi said.

The UALR team attended a workshop May 18 to 21 at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Geology and Geophysics for training on equipment and software used for the project and to scout appropriate sites for the recording stations. UALR’s team will be seeking landowners in Arkansas and northern Louisiana who can host the equipment on their property for at least two years.