Community Workshop: The future of PBO in the GAGE Facility (2013-2018) and after EarthScope Grant


  • This grant will support a focused three day workshop in Colorado in early fall 2014. The purpose of the workshop is to bring together various stakeholders to discuss the future of the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) continental scale geodetic network in the U.S. PBO consists of approximately 1100 continuously operating Global Positioning System receivers installed across the U.S. but with increased density in the Western U.S. near the active plate margin of the North American plate. Here, crustal deformation rates are high and earthquakes are concentrated along the San Andreas and associated transform faults. Offshore the Pacific Northwest and southern Alaska ocean crust is subducted beneath the North American plate leading to active volcanic processes in the Cascades and Aleutians and where large tsunamigenic earthquakes have been recorded in the historical record. PBO also includes other geodetic sensing modalities including borehole strainmeters (BSM) and seismometers, long baseline laser strain meters (LSM), tiltmeters and surface meteorological measurements. Geodetic observations are recorded at a range of frequencies and some 400 of the 1100 GPS stations record at high rates (1 Hz) and transmit data in real time. All PBO data and data products are archived centrally UNAVCO, Inc. ( and are freely available via internet web access. PBO data products are used to address a wide range of scientific and technical issues across North America. A large US and international community of surveyors and civil engineers access PBO data streams, software, and other on-line resources daily. The western US and Alaska, where over 95% of the PBO sensor assets are located, have experienced and will continue to experience significant and potentially damaging geophysical events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. The science facilitated by PBO provides first-order constraints on geophysical processes to support hazards mapping and zoning and for earthquake early warning applications currently under development. 

    Under a new NSF-UNAVCO, Inc. five-year Cooperative Agreement, PBO along with globally distributed geodetic infrastructure used for precise positioning via GPS and to support satellite and spacecraft orbital positioning, are now managed as part of the so-called GAGE facility (Geodesy Advancing Geosciences and EarthScope). In FY 2013, budget challenges led to a directed cut to the baseline GAGE support from NSF from operational costs incurred in FY 2012 and previous. Thus, the workshop will seek to identify the longer term ramifications of that rebaselining and how scientific and other priorities will help define what components of PBO, in particular, are at risk of being terminated in the near future under the period of the GAGE five year Cooperative Agreement (2013-2018). The workshop will support a meeting of a number of scientific and technical leaders with a wide variety of scientific interests, representatives from the commercial sector who either have current products or business models based on free and open access to the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) geodetic facility data and data products, or who may have an interest in developing new business or products based on PBO assets and streams in the future, and relevant federal and state agency representatives. The workshop will result in a report and web resources encapsulating community-vetted recommendations. 

date/time interval

  • July 1, 2014 -

administered by

sponsor award ID

  • EAR-1441122

local award ID

  • NSF1100