NSF Makes 5-Year $93M Award to IRIS to Manage the SAGE Facility

IRIS is pleased to announce that it has received a 5-year, $93M award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to operate SAGE (Seismological Facilities for the Advancement of Geoscience) for the U.S. academic research community. The award will begin October 1, 2018, and will run through September 30, 2023. IRIS will be coordinating SAGE management and governance with UNAVCO who will be operating GAGE (Geodetic Facilities for the Advancement of Geoscience), a separate geodetic facility.

SAGE will provide cutting-edge instrumentation and critical data services that will enable groundbreaking advances in the field of Earth sciences, as well as provide innovative education, outreach, and workforce development opportunities that serve a wide range of audiences.“  said Margaret Benoit, a program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, which along with NSF’s Office of Polar Programs, funds the SAGE facility.

SAGE includes support for the Global Seismographic Network (GSN) which is operated by IRIS and the IDA group at the University of California, San Diego in collaboration the U.S. Geological Survey. Over the next five years work will continue on updating the Very Broadband (VBB) sensors and other equipment in the 150-station GSN network, as well as implementing an improved data quality assurance system. SAGE will also support the portable seismology and polar support programs operated out of the PASSCAL Instrument Center (PIC) at New Mexico Tech. The portable seismic instrument pool will be modernized over the next five years with the acquisition of 3-channel, nodal sensors and compact, rugged intermediate period sensors designed for field deployments. New instruments will also be acquired with real-time or near-real-time telemetry for rapid response studies of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other geophysical events. New to SAGE will be the establishment of a portable magnetotelluric (MT) instrument pool at the PIC to support PI-driven experiments funded by various NSF programs. IRIS will acquire ~100 new long-period and ~40 wideband MT instruments for the MT pool.

The SAGE Data Management Center (DMC), operated by IRIS, is the world’s largest facility for the archiving, curation and distribution of seismological waveform data for studies of Earth structure and tectonics. IRIS will be working with UNAVCO to develop a single data access point for users to obtain all of the seismic and geodetic data of interest in a particular region or for a particular time period with a single web services call. IRIS will also be leveraging the existing infrastructure at the DMC to expand the types of data in the DMC to enable interdisciplinary Earth system science as well as expanding access to data held at other data centers around the world through a system of federated centers including many that are in the International Federation of Digital Seismograph Networks (FDSN). 

Over the next 5 years, IRIS and UNAVCO will work together to coordinate and expand their renowned education, outreach and workforce development programs. We will create formal and informal educational material for students from grade six to undergraduate and graduate levels, sponsor innovative summer internship programs, provide support for early career professionals and engage the general public to improve geoscience literacy. As part of a new Workforce and Diversity Initiative, IRIS will use urban geophysics as a means of attracting minority students to geophysics.

This award is the culmination of an ~3-year long process run by NSF to re-compete the management of the facilities operated by IRIS and UNAVCO.  The IRIS proposal reflected the needs and priorities of the 125 academic institutions who are members of the IRIS Consortium. Bob Detrick, President of IRIS, commented that “Over the past 34 years, IRIS has established an outstanding reputation for management of large, multi-user facilities for research and education in seismology. We are very excited to be able to continue to provide state-of-the-art seismological facilities to the IRIS community for the next 5 years.

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