Program Management Update
Kent Anderson provided an update on the portable program. He reported the numbers of new/existing portable experiments and noted that all PASSCAL performance targets were met for Q1 and Q2 of 2017 with the exception of polar broadband instruments. There were 2 large polar experiments which demobilized in the 2016-17 Antarctic field season which meant that a large number of polar broadbands were in “evaluation” status until they could be cleared for future experiments – no experiments were impacted by this missed target.
RT130 GPS Replacements
The Board approved $180k of carryover from SAGE Y3 to replace some of the older RT130 GPS antennas which had encountered problems for some deployments in tropical areas. PIC engineers worked to develop an in-house solution, rather than purchasing direct from Trimble/RefTek, that will cost substantially less and allow us to replace 100% of the current pool of older RT130 GPS antennas plus 10% sparing instead of the 70% replacement originally envisioned. PASSCAL is currently working on fabrication solutions, and should have the replacements completed within 3 to 6 months.
Projecting a +3.7% variance (~$189k) for just completed SAGE Y4, which is within the 5% variance allowance granted by the Board. Therefore, no PASSCAL funds are exposed to CoCom for reallocation to other programs. This positive variance was due to a combination of a small positive variance on NMT award and some slowed spending on M&S. As you recall, the Board granted program management flexibility to allow retention of FTE’s at NMT until NGEO is awarded at the expense of slowed M&S spending. We still have an M&S spending plan to account for all M&S needs, but will hold off on full execution until NGEO award is better understood. Current spend plans for these funds were presented and PM suggested that the committee could request addition carryover that may be available from other programs (those with >5% carryover), but no suggestions were made from the PASC. PM suggested that we request full execution of M&S plan once NGEO is assured.
External Funding Search
Kent Anderson reported on a meeting with the Director of the Fossil Fuels Division of DOE (Alan Cohen) in Sept 2017 in DC where he discussed the past and potential future collaborations between DOE and IRIS/PASSCAL (>140 past DOE related experiments). We discussed PASSCAL’s needs for recapitalization of our portable instrumentation and ways in which DOE might contribute in exchange for priority usage of the equipment. Kent has also been in discussion with the NNSA portion of DOE regarding funding support for large numbers of short period instruments (e.g. nodes) that DOE could have priority usage of and PASSCAL could manage and make available for academic use as well.
PASSCAL is seeing an increase in the number of Arctic experiments in conjunction with the completion of the TA in Alaska while Antarctic experiments have slowed. The PIC is discovering that bear hardening is proving to be as important as cold hardening for stations deployed in this region. The GLISN experiment is entering the last year of its current 5-year award. Work is underway to submit a proposal this fall for an additional 5 years of funding to continue this successful project. GEOICE has begun final procurements which will add 10 broadbands, 70 intermediate periods, and 200 nodes to the polar pool. PIC polar engineers are currently working to design a remote charging/programming/data offload rack that can be taken to the field in support of nodal deployments.
Justin Sweet briefed the PASC on the results of recent experiment outbriefs with PASSCAL PIs, including positive and negative feedback received. Metric ratings were also shared, all of which have been trending higher (better) over the past year. Although these are gathering very helpful and constructive feedback – which the management team is using – the original intent was to see if this was a valid, quantifiable metric to suggest to NSF as a “quality of service” performance metric for the program. PM felt that although eventually, this could be valid, it was not ready to suggest for the last year of SAGE. We will consider this for NGEO.
Wavefields Short Course
Justin Sweet provided a short summary of the recent Wavefields Short Course, held in August 2017 at Indiana University. 29 students and 8 instructors came together for 5 days of lecture and group projects focused on the Wavefields dataset collected in Oklahoma during 2016. This fulfilled the PASC request to present training on wavefield-type datasets.
PASSCAL Instrument Center Update
Bruce Beaudoin and Sue Bilek provided an update on the state of affairs at the PIC, including several trend plots showing the number of instrument requests and funded instruments. Trends for Broadband instruments showed that although requests have been increasing, the number of funded experiments have substantially dropped from ~650 BB’s out per year to ~250 (leaving ~400 BB’s available and on the shelf – offering zero wait time). SP trends show similar increase in requests and only a slight drop in funded experiment levels. Unlike the BB sensors, the SP sensors are fully committed and we are having to deny SP experiment extension requests in order to meet scheduling commitments. More spare parts and SP sensors have been ordered to allow us more flexibility. Trend plots for the nodes show that PASSCAL nodes are fully subscribed out through 2019. Most PI’s are limiting their requests to the current number of nodes in the pool, but a few have made requests at the level of current Texan pool (~3,000 nodes). Bruce also discussed PH5 development progress, and an alpha release of a new stationXML generator named Nexus. This new tool can simply generate metadata for files/folders of data collected in the field. This software tool will soon be going to the DMC and RESIF (France) for testing. PASSCAL hopes to release Nexus to users sometime in 2018.
UTEP Seismic Source Facility Update
Galen Kaip provided an update on UTEP SSF activities during 2017, including several projects in Texas, Alaska, and Colorado. The SSF has recently begun reloading their own shotgun shells and has also begun selling shells at-cost to other universities with active source needs. Current and future work includes data analysis from recent source testing at UTEP, and support for active source projects/proposals in Colorado, Mexico, and Utah.
Instrumentation Services Update
Bob Woodward provided an update on various projects across Instrumentation Services. The GSN is in the process of deploying new primary sensors (STS-6A and T360) and initial performance looks exemplary. The TA is now fully installed in Alaska, numbering 200 new stations and 80 upgraded existing stations. Several events and press releases this week and next to announce the completion of this monumental project. Current notional plan is for stations to be demobilized in 2019 and 2020, with the hope that some stations will be adopted by various groups and continue to operate after the rest of the TA departs. The MT TA is nearing completion in the lower 48. The MUSTANG metric tool LASSO has now completed development and is available for users at lasso.iris.edu. CCArray concept continues to gather momentum in Canada, however the current timeline for this project is unlikely to be ready in time to coincide with the demobilization of the TA from Alaska.
Data Management Center Update
Tim Ahern provided an update on activities at the DMC. DMC archive now up to 450TB with over 1PB of data distributed thus far in 2017. More than half of stations in the archive (14,958 out of 34,019) are from PASSCAL experiments. The DMC has made progress on 2 major projects during the course of SAGE: 1. MUSTANG, which is now fully operational, and 2. Research Ready Datasets, which are currently in beta mode and will be completed by the end of SAGE (Sept 2018). Tim also provided an update on seamless access to PH5 datasets at the DMC, which includes access via web services (sac, SEED) and web forms (SEG-Y).
Bob Detrick gave an update on recent changes at NSF, including the appointment of a new program manager (Maggie Benoit) for the remainder of SAGE. Year 5 SAGE funding has been fully received from NSF at this time. No news on the status of the NGEO proposal. NSF is expected to present their recommendation to the National Science Board at their upcoming November or January meetings.
Community Input for Strategic Planning
Prior to the meeting, each of the committee members were asked to survey their portion of the seismologic community to determine what their science needs are and input on what instrumentation is required to make pertinent observations. During this portion of the PASC meeting, each member had 15 minutes to present the results of their discussions with community members (~40-50 community members responded!). A starting list of instrumentation requirements for some of the pool was drafted – including node-type, intermediate period and broadband systems. The rest of the instrument pool was not discussed in detail, but left for future discussion (short period, high frequency sensors, multi-channel recorders and cabling systems, sources, etc). This compilation of the community input needs to be documented (see action item 9)
The PASC worked on prioritized lists of 1. Needs, 2. Wants, and 3. Nice-to-haves for instrument system designs in each of three categories: Nodal, intermediate period, and broadband systems. The goal was to develop these lists that could then be provided to manufacturers to inform their future development efforts, and also to describe what we would like our future procurements of next-generation instrumentation to resemble. As mentioned above, this was only a subset of the entire PASSCAL pool and did not include a discussion of sources or source systems.
Strategic Planning Discussion
PM presented the need for the management team to have a strategic vision document and an updated Scope Management Plan (SMP) that allows the management team to implement the program and present budget impacts on strategic priorities to the governance. The current SMP is out of date and is no longer appropriate in that it is does not include program capabilities, but rather facility tasks. As written, the SMP would reduce the facility to a warehouse system before it would consider any reduction in instrumentation services.
PM volunteered to draft an update SMP for PASC consideration. The PASC encouraged the PM to develop a framework in which if changes to the Scope of PASSCAL became necessary, the PM (in consultation with the SC chair) would develop several possible options to accommodate budget realities by reducing the scope of the program in different ways. The PM and Chair would then present those options for consideration to the PASC. The goal is for the PASC to not micromanage the PM with how the changes in scope were implemented, but rather to guide the PM by indicating what changes in scope were most palatable at that time. In the case of time-critical matters, the PM will at least consult with the PASC Chair before implementing any changes in Scope. Bob Detrick seconded this basic plan outline.
Bob Detrick and Bob Woodward mentioned a recent NSF Dear Colleague letter that described the establishment of a mid-size (~$10-70m) infrastructure fund that could be relevant for recapitalization of the PASSCAL instrument pool. They encouraged this committee to respond to that letter with our needs. (see Action Item 10)
USGS Temporary Deployments
Harley Benz and William Yeck (both USGS) described the current USGS portable pool (RT-130’s, compacts, episensors and newer Etna-2 systems) and how it’s used to rapidly respond to various types of seismic events around the country. They expressed that the coordination with PASSCAL is very important to optimize aftershock response and that the data from PASSCAL RAMPs are only valuable to their system if received in real-time (telemetered data) or near-real-time (days). Kate Allstadt (USGS, PASC) provided a short update on the landslide group at the NEIC that also makes use of portable seismic deployments as part of their efforts.
PASSCAL Data Policy
The committee reviewed the updated PASSCAL data policy and the PASC members present voted unanimously to approve the policy as written. Action item to PM will verify with those PASC members not present.
Board document on Best Practices for Governance and Management
The committee reviewed the Board document and were requested to provide feedback to the Board. The standing committee members agreed that the document was important, and were pleased that the Board had written down guiding principles. However, did raise a concern at the meeting with regard to the communication between the Board and the Standing Committees. Currently, on the Management side, Bob Woodward is present at both the Standing Committee Meetings and at the Board Meetings so he can report directly from Management’s perspective. The only commensurate link from the governance side is the Board Liaison. Traditionally, the Liaison has often been absent from SC meetings. The PASC encourages the Board to more strongly emphasize the vitality of Board Liaisons participation in SC meetings, or else consider including SC Chairs at appropriate portions of the Board Meetings.
In addition, during the final executive session, some concern was raised about the description of the Standing Committees as “advisory”. This was a change from how several standing committee members had thought of the role of the SCs (as opposed to advisory committees).