EarthScope: Cyberinfrastructure to access Plate Boundary Observatory data products and services Abstract


  • The wealth of data from geodetic observing systems, especially the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO), presents major data management challenges. The challenges are driven by ingenious new uses of Global Positioning System (GPS) data, demands for higher-rate, lower latency data, the need for continued access and long term preservation of archival data, the expansion of data users into other science, engineering and commercial arenas, and the growth of enhanced products that expand the utility of the data. To meet these challenges, UNAVCO has established a comprehensive suite of data services encompassing sensor network data operations, data product generation (through the activities of partners at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Central Washington University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and the University of California, San Diego - UCSD), data management, access and archiving, and advanced cyberinfrastructure. PBO sensor systems include 1,100 continuously operating GPS stations, 79 borehole geophysical sites (with a combination of strainmeters, tiltmeters, seismometers, pore pressure gauges, and meteorological sensors), and 6 long baseline strainmeters. Imaging data acquired for EarthScope include large volumes of satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and airborne LiDAR data. Core data products such as daily GPS position time series and derived crustal motion velocities have been augmented with real-time data streams and positions calculated every second from 367 PBO stations. Higher rate (5 Hz) data files are available for applications such as GPS seismology. Efforts are underway with UCSD to integrate GPS and accelerometers at a subset of PBO sites to increase the reliability and capability of the observations. These observations have utility for research and hazards mitigation. Ingenious methods of GPS data analysis, developed by the University of Colorado and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, measure snow depth, near surface soil moisture, and vegetation. Along with atmospheric water vapor estimates, these products are expanding the utility of the data into atmospheric, environmental, ecological and soil sciences. Another new PBO product, hydrologic loading models derived from the NASA Global Land Data Assimilation System, is available for correcting GPS time series and hydrologic studies. To facilitate discovery and access of these extensive, diverse, and distributed data collections, UNAVCO has led collaborative efforts to develop web services and federated query capabilities for GPS, LiDAR and SAR. These services form the foundations for global integration projects such as EarthCube, GEO Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories, and COOPEUS. In order to further curation and enhance access and processing capabilities, UNAVCO is exploring cloud computing and storage with UCSD and Amazon that will increase capacity over the next five years. Finally, with the rich set of data and services offered from PBO comes the need to help users better understand data techniques, observations, and quality. To serve this need, UNAVCO is enhancing online resources and, with its community partners, will continue to develop technical short courses and workshops.

publication date

  • 2013

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