The IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) Consortium will develop, operate, and maintain a distributed, multi-user facility entitled Seismological Facilities for the Advancement of Geoscience (SAGE). Expert professional staff, with guidance provided by the scientific community, will manage and operate a set of foundational capabilities that are essential for current research support, as well as frontier activities that will enable future research. The facility will promote advances in our understanding of Earth structure and dynamics, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and interactions between the solid Earth, hydrosphere, and atmosphere through management and operation of: 1) Global and regional continuously operating seismic networks, including the Global Seismographic Network; 2) Portable geophysical instrumentation for use in principal investigator driven and community experiments; 3) data management systems for the collection, quality assurance, curation, management, and distribution of open access data and data products; and 4) education, workforce development, and public outreach programs designed to be inclusive and enhance participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in the geosciences. The seismological facilities provided through the SAGE contribute to issues of national/global strategic importance, including geohazard assessment and disaster resilience; environmental management and economic development; national security; and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and workforce development. Data and data products from SAGE will be used by state and federal agencies including the United States Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense, for mission agency activities, including earthquake monitoring and characterization, tsunami warning, weather forecasting, water and environmental management, and nuclear test monitoring. SAGE programs will also support inquiry-based science education, enhancing students' abilities to engage directly with science and engineering principles and practice, and enabling them to pursue STEM careers in academia, industry, business, and government. The SAGE outreach activities promote public engagement and science literacy.
The SAGE facility provides instrumentation services; data services; and education, workforce development, and community engagement activities in support of seismology. Researchers use SAGE to gain valuable insights into fundamental Earth processes, and SAGE also provides key data for national security needs, including monitoring efforts of clandestine nuclear tests. The scientific priorities of the new facility would enable advances in the following areas: (1) Global Earth Structure and Dynamics: The facility would enhance our ability to resolve the three-dimensional structure of the Earth's interior and enable investigators to study processes that drive plate tectonics and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. (2) Fault Zones and the Earthquake Cycle: Over the last decade, scientists have discovered a broad array of fault zone slip behaviors that span a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales. The SAGE facility will enable a variety of seismic and electromagnetic measurements to elucidate how these different types of behaviors start and stop, vary along fault zones, and interact with one another. (3) Magmas and Volatiles in the Crust and Mantle: Geophysical instrumentation is critical for understanding volcanic systems and minimizing risks associated with volcanic hazards. The capabilities provided by SAGE will enable researchers to study melt production, monitor its transport through the crust, and map out the plumbing systems of volcanoes. (4) Hydrosphere, Cryosphere, and Atmosphere: An area of increasing community interest is utilizing geophysical measurements to study processes at the Earth's surface. The SAGE facility will provide opportunities to study processes in the near-surface, such as hydrology, cryospheric processes, and glacier dynamics. (5) Education, Public Outreach, and Workforce Development: SAGE will develop a variety of educational resources and enable hundreds of undergraduate research opportunities. A major focus of the SAGE activities will be on broadening participation of underrepresented students through IRIS' new Urban Geosystems focus. Additionally, the facility will develop animations, simulations, and other visualizations of Earth processes to help instructors at all level teach about Earth Science.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.