Magnetotelluric Instrumentation

Under its current cooperative agreement "Seismological Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience" (SAGE) with the National Science Foundation, IRIS is establishing a new pool of portable magnetotelluric (MT) systems at the PASSCAL Instrument Center (PIC) in Socorro, New Mexico. This effort aims to make crust and lithosphere-scale MT capabilities widely available to principal investigators (PIs) by providing modern instrumentation with user training and data handling support at no extra cost. Instruments from the PIC are used worldwide and often form the backbone of international, collaborative geophysical research. By utilizing the resources of the PIC, IRIS is providing a foundation to broaden the participation of PIs in MT research by increasing opportunities for experiments by non-specialists and encouraging combined seismic-magnetotelluric deployments.

During EarthScope, IRIS and Oregon State University partnered to operate a pool of MT systems used for community surveying and several PI experiments. That existing capacity will form the basis of support for funded investigators during an interim period lasting until late-2020. In early 2019, the experiment scheduling request webpage at the PIC will include the option to reserve up to 20 of the existing long-period NIMS systems and request a letter of support. Separately, Oregon State will continue to operate its facility, which offers a separate pool of wideband MT instruments to PIs using a cost recovery system.

The planned PASSCAL MT facility is outlined in the most recent community facility proposal and will be established over the next several years with oversight from the PASSCAL Standing Committee (PASC) and Electromagnetic Advisory Committee (EMAC). Activities during this time will include the testing and evaluation of new long-period and/or wideband MT systems (fluxgate and/or induction coil magnetometers, dataloggers, and electrodes), identifying and/or creating software resources for data handling, establishing user training programs, and building of storage and maintenance facilities. We invite interested members of the magnetotelluric and seismological communities to join the PASSCAL MT mailing list for updates on these activities. Please contact the EMAC Chair (Ninfa Bennington) and IRIS management (Andy Frassetto, Kent Anderson) if they have any questions about this program. The EMAC will oversee technical discussions related to both instrumentation and software/data handling, and members of the community who are interested in participating should contact Andy.