UNAVCO is a consortium of research institutions that supports and promotes a better understanding of Earth by using high-precision techniques to measure crustal deformation.
The Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) component of the EarthScope project precisely measures Earth deformation resulting from the constant motion of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates in the western United States.
These Earth movements can be very small and incremental and not felt by people, or very large and sudden such as those displayed in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. PBO measures Earth deformation through its arrays of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, strainmeters, seismometers, and other geodetic instruments. UNAVCO is the facility for the Plate Boundary Observatory and is responsible for instrument installation, maintenance, communications, data archiving, and data availability.
The PBO mission is to site, recon, permit, install, and maintain Global Positioning System, borehole strainmeter, and laser strainmeter instruments on schedule, on budget, and to specification.
PBO operations are based at UNAVCO's Boulder, Colorado, headquarters. In order to manage and maintain stations over the large geographic area of the project, PBO has established four regional areas of operation: Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, and continental East.