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Plate Boundary Observatory

The Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) is the geodetic component of EarthScope, operated by UNAVCO, and funded by the National Science Foundation.

The PBO consists of several major observatory components: a network of 1100 permanent, continuously operating Global Positioning System (GPS) stations many of which provide data at high-rate and in real-time, 78 borehole seismometers, 74 borehole strainmeters, 26 shallow borehole tiltmeters, and six long baseline laser strainmeters. These instruments are complemented by InSAR (interferometric synthetic aperture radar) and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) imagery and geochronology acquired as part of the GeoEarthScope initiative. PBO also includes comprehensive data products, data management and education and outreach efforts.

As part of the PBO-NSF Cooperative Agreement UNAVCO manages the EarthScope San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) including monitoring major subawards, equipment refurbishment, core sampling and distribution, and community oversight. SAFOD management was based at Stanford University and at the USGS during the MREFC construction phase. + More

The ability of PBO to address its scientific goals relies heavily on long-term and continuous instrument operation to obtain uninterrupted time series of positions and strains, which are critical for rigorously quantifying measurement errors and detecting secular and transient deformation. PBO spans the North American continent with instrumentation, providing the detailed deformation data necessary to address a wide range of scientific goals at the forefront of tectonics and earthquake science, including the modes and driving forces of distributed plate boundary deformation, time-dependent deformation and rheology of the lithosphere, and episodic tremor and slip (ETS) phenomena.

The PBO Major Research and Equipment Facilities Construction (MREFC) was completed on time and on budget in October 2008. PBO is now in an operations and maintenance phase with a primary focus of maintaining a high level of station uptime and high-quality data and data products that are freely and openly available to the public with equal access provided for all users.


Observatory Highlights
››More Highlights
Photo:Drilling VA01 in response to Mineral VA 5.8M Earthquake Broadband Geodetic and Seismological Response to the Mineral, VA Earthquake
December 12, 2011

In October 2011, engineers from the Plate Boundary Observatory began work on an NSF-funded RAPID project related to the study of the post-rupture crustal relaxation due to the M5.8 earthquake that struck near Mineral, VA on August 23, 2011. The project consisted of the reconnaissance, permitting, construction, and data communications for two permanent GPS stations near Louisa, Virginia, close to the epicenter of the earthquake. UNAVCO field engineers assisted the Principal Investigator with all the components of the fieldwork. The project was completed in November 2011.

Photo:High-rate data recorded at PBO borehole B076  following the March 11, 2011, M9 Tohoku  earthquake. The upper plot shows the 1-sps strain (black) and the predicted earth tide and ocean load signal (red). High Rate Strain and Tilt Data Products
November 14, 2011

Beginning October 2011, UNAVCO will start releasing high-rate (1-sps) processed borehole strainmeter data for geophysical events of special interest, e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic events or in response to community requests. The high rate strain data set will include areal and shear strain, earth tide plus ocean load time-series, barometric pressure corrections, plus pore pressure and tiltmeter data if they are collected at the site. These new data products will be available from the UNAVCO PBO web page under the Geophysical Event section. The first high rate data sets available are for the M9, March 11, 2011, Tohoku Earthquake and the M6.4, 2011 September 9, Vancouver Island Earthquake.

Photo:Western U.S. velocity field from the PBO network, 2005-2011 New PBO GPS Velocity Field
August 30, 2011

UNAVCO has released a new realization of the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) network GPS velocity field, reflecting data acquired through May 2011.

Photo:Figure 1:  Map of the Plate Boundary Pacific Northwest Strainmeter Network PBO Strainmeters Record the 2011 ETS Cascadia Episodic tremor and Slip Event
August 22, 2011

A few months earlier than anticipated, the 2011 Cascadia Episodic Tremor and Slip event may be underway. Based on the start time of last year's event, this year's tremor was expected to begin late October 2011. An increase in tremor south of Puget Sound around August 7th, however, and its propagation northeastwards under the Olympic Peninsula over the past 10 days has caused speculation that this is the main 2011 ETS event (http://www.pnsn.org/WEBICORDER/DEEPTREM/summer2011.html).

Photo:Film crew shoots drilling operations on San Jacinto Fault in California Drilling into the San Jacinto Fault
December 20, 2010

The Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) worked hard in the fall of 2010 to install instrumentation in deep boreholes in the San Jacinto Fault area of southern. The area of focus was in the region of the town of Anza, located roughly halfway between the Salton Sea and the city of Riverside, California.

Geophysical Event Data
››More Events

M7.9 - 24km SE of Little Sitkin Island, Alaska (June 23, 2014)
Related PBO Strainmeter Data


M6.6 - 94km S of Port Hardy, Canada (2014-04-24)
Related PBO Strainmeter Data


M7.5 - 75km SW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea (2014-04-19)
Related PBO Strainmeter Data


M7.2 - 36km NNW of Tecpan de Galeana, Mexico (2014-04-18)
Related PBO Strainmeter Data


M7.6 & M7.4 - 100km SSE of Kirakira, Solomon Islands (2014-04-12)
Related PBO Strainmeter Data


Station Finder
Multiple Stations (P406,P407,P499)
Station Type
Station Home Page
Single Station Code (example: P406)
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Network Status
GPS BSM
Total: 1101 78
Operational: 96% 97%
Non-Operational: 4% 3%
Updated: 2014-08-27 21:08:40

PBO Data Access
PBO Resources
PBO Support

Recently Installed Station Viewer
  • Code: AC29
    Name: middleton_AK2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: Middleton Island, Alaska
  • Code: TNCU
    Name: TNCU_TNET_MX2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: Cuauhtemoc, CH
  • Code: TNHM
    Name: TNHM_TNET_MX2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: Hermosillo, SO
  • Code: YBRA
    Name: RedLodge_US_2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: Red Lodge, MT
  • Code: CN46
    Name: CarriacouCRU2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: Mount Pleasant, n/a
  • Code: CN04
    Name: Castries_LCA2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: COCO,
  • Code: CN47
    Name: vieuxfortLCA2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: Moule A Chique,
  • Code: CN05
    Name: CN05_PuntacanaDR
    Type: GPS
    Location: Punta Cana, La Altagracia Province
  • Code: CN14
    Name: GtInagua_BHS2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: Mathew Town, Great Inagua
  • Code: CN13
    Name: SanSalva_BHS2014
    Type: GPS
    Location: San Salvador,
  • javascript:loadWin('http://pbov4.unavco.org/station/health/P681','P681')
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