Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Eos, Vol. 89, No. 9, 26 February 2008.


The eastern two thirds of the coterminous United States (from the Rocky Mountain Front to the east coast) are sparsely equipped with seismic monitoring instruments, with the number of permanent broadband seismic stations per unit area of the order of 5–10% of that in the western U.S. orogenic zone. In this Forum, we use the Central Plains area (CP)—defined here as the fourstate area including Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri—as an example to argue that a greatly densified permanent seismic network in the stable part of the United States could significantly improve our understanding of the processes that led to the formation and four-dimensional structure of the continental lithosphere. The network would also serve as an excellent facility for longterm earthquake monitoring and for public education and outreach. This issue is timely because a state-of-the-art, uniform network could be established by simply converting a small portion of the portable stations in the ongoing USArray project into permanent ones without affecting the overall progress of the USArray.