EarthsCAN a Bridge from Earthscope into the Future

Katherine Boggs, Mount Royal University

North America has had > 30 years of continuous large innovative geoscience research programs – COCORP, Lithoprobe (1984 to 2004), Earthscope (2004 to ~2019) and now EarthsCAN (~2017 to ?). Lithoprobe (~1000 geoscientists produced ~1500 scientific publications) serves as evidence for the prolific capacity of a united Canadian geoscience community. Using a Lithoprobe-like approach, spring-boarding off the technical advances of Earthscope, the intention of EarthsCAN is to create new research networks that permit us to approach the challenges facing society with completely new ways of thinking. Globally, climate change, population growth, natural hazards and the need for long term sustainability of resource supply (including materials, energy and food) demand new approaches to Earth Sciences. As demonstrated by the cutting edge multi-discipline presentations at the June 2016 IRIS meeting, installing "The Bridge" an Earthscope-like seismic array in the Yukon and BC could greatly enhance our ability to examine atmospheric – oceanographic - lithospheric interfaces and processes, expanding our ability to study entire Earth Systems. Technological advances during the Earthscope program created increasingly sensitive pressure sensors that are now being used to establish links between microseismicity, solar modal influences (Thomson et al 2007), the resultant tidal forces (Tolstoy et al 2002, Thomas et al 2013), ocean storms and the use of wave heights to establish past climate cycles (Schulte-Pelkam et al 2004). The enhanced sensitivity to low frequency acoustic signals demonstrated by the Earthscope seismic array has made it possible to examine atmospheric gravity waves (de Groot-Hedlin et al 2013, 2015) which have a vital role in global-scale circulation and transfer of energy between atmospheric levels, representing the next focus for improving climate and weather modeling (Kim et al 2003). Exciting links are currently being established between the impact of large scale tectonic stresses on topography, fracturing of bedrock, groundwater flow and chemical weathering and the depth of important biogeochemical processes (St. Clair et al 2015). The inclusion of C-flux monitors (being developed at St Francis Xavier University, Risk et al 2013) would improve the monitoring of carbon in the soils of the Yukon and BC, which in turn would contribute to improving our understanding of global C-cycles. Combining these instruments together permits the formation of creative new research networks capable of examining entire earth systems with fresh new collaborative perspectives. EarthsCAN brainstorming workshops are scheduled for August 17-19 in Calgary, August 21-23 in Ottawa.


Cutting edge research in structural geology geophysics geochemistry and tectonics