The EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory Distributed Data Management System Abstract


  • EarthScope is an ambitious multi-year project funded by the United States National Science Foundation to explore the structure and dynamics of the North American continent using a wide range of geophysical methods. The Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO), being built by UNAVCO, is the geodetic component of EarthScope, and will comprise 880 continuous GPS stations, 103 borehole strainmeter stations, 28 tiltmeters, and five laser strainmeters; in addition, PBO will manage data for 209 existing GPS stations and 11 GPS stations installed by the USArray segment of EarthScope. As of February 2007, 561 of these stations have been installed. PBO data flow is managed from the PBO Boulder Network Operations Center (NOC), located at UNAVCO Headquarters. Automated systems at the NOC retrieve data from our stations at least daily, monitor the status of the network and alert operators to problems, and pass data on for analysis, archiving, and distribution. Real-time network status can be found at PBO's analysis centers generate high-quality derived data products from PBO raw data. Two centers, at Central Washington University and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, process raw GPS data to produce initial PBO GPS products including network solutions and station position time series, andthese products are combined by the Analysis Center Coordinator at MIT to produce the official PBO GPS products. Two analysis centers, at UNAVCO's Socorro office and the University of California, San Diego, process data from the PBO borehole and laser strainmeter networks and produce cleaned time series of shear, areal, and linear strain, Earth tides, pore fluid pressure, and other parameters. The UNAVCO Facility archives and distributes all PBO GPS data products and runs a secondary archive offsite; to date, these centers hold more than 2.5 TB of PBO products. The IRIS Data Management Center and Northern California Earthquake Data Center archive and distribute all PBO strainmeter data products, and IRIS archives all PBO seismic data products; all told, more than 160 GB of strain and seismic data products are available from these archives. These same two centers also archive other EarthScope seismic and strain data, which makes it much simpler for users to access EarthScope products from a unified set of centers. PBO and EarthScope data products may be accessed using a variety of tools. The PBO Web site ( provides centralized access to PBO products stored in our distributed archives. For example, GPS products may be accessed from and strain data products from In addition, the individual archives provide access to their holdings, both for PBO and other networks, through a variety of discipline-specific tools. The most exciting development still to come in providing access to EarthScope data products will be the creation of the EarthScope Portal. This system will be based on Web services, operated by the EarthScope components, that provide access to holdings at the EarthScope archives and are linked to a central Web portal. This system will provide a unified system for discovery and access to EarthScope digital data products, and is planned to be operational by October 2008.

publication date

  • 2007

presented at event