News FocusSolid-Earth Science

Geophysical Exploration Linking Deep Earth and Backyard Geology

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Science  14 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6138, pp. 1283-1285
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6138.1283

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Big Science came to solid-Earth studies when the $400 million EarthScope program offered a sharper geophysical view of the interior that could help geologists. The proposed four-pronged program would point a geophysical "telescope" inward to bring the subsurface of North America into unprecedentedly sharp focus. The satellite radar component never came to pass, and the drill hole through the San Andreas fault fell far short of its goals. But imaging with a traveling seismic network and taking the pulse of the plate boundary are revealing all manner of processes shaping surface geology, from a plume fueling Yellowstone volcanism to "drips" off the continent's bottom.