Sensing stations for improving the seismic mapping of America are going up around the Lower Peninsula, thanks to a pair of Michigan State University graduate students participating in the National Science Foundation's EarthScope program.
The goal is to better predict natural disasters.
Nationwide, thousands of seismic, GPS and other geophysical instruments will be part of EarthScope. They'll study the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Benjamin Johnson and Jamie Ryan are identifying locations across lower Michigan that will host 25 seismic stations. So far, they've found 14 of the locations.
"The seismometers will record earthquakes to produce high-resolution images of the earth's interior and allow us to better understand origins and characteristics of earthquakes, both local and distant," MSU geology professor Kaz Fujita said in a prepared statement.
"These advanced instruments will provide 3-D images of the Earth from 2,000 locations across the continent," said Fujita, who heads the program.
The students' role involves using geographic data to identify good locations, and then visiting the sites to seek landowners' approval and see if, on closer inspection, the sites are appropriate for the project.
"There are many environmental sources like wind, rivers, and road traffic that can reduce the quality of the data recorded by the seismometer, so we are looking for quiet locations with minimal noise," said Johnson, who is seeking a master's degree in geology. "Farm fields are a favored location. Once we identify a suitable location, it really becomes personal as we work with landowners and ask them to host a site."