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Research and Facilities

Geophysical Research at Boise State University

Boise State University (BSU) has active geophysical research efforts focused on problems in hydrogeology and groundwater resources, geotechnical engineering, environmental geoscience, watershed hydrology, hydrologic aspects of global change, paleoclimatology and paleoceanography, landslides and seismic hazards, and seismotectonics. The research is integrated with the undergraduate and graduate programs of the Department of Geosciences, and with activities of the Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface (CGISS) and with thePermian Research Institute (PRI). The University is also a member of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a major NSF-supported organization which facilitates seismological research in the United States.

Facilities, equipment and other resources at Boise State University

Geophysical and Hydrogeophysical Field Equipment. The Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface (CGISS) at Boise State University has active geophysical research efforts focused on problems in volcanology, glaciology, hydrogeology and groundwater resources, geotechnical engineering, environmental geoscience, watershed hydrology, hydrologic aspects of global change, paleoclimatology and paleoceanography, landslides, seismic hazards, seismotectonics, and infrasound studies. Modern geophysical field instrumentation includes broadband (Guralp CMG-40T) and short period seismometers, more than 50 infrasound sensors and associated calibration infrastructure, as well as portable 24-bit Guralp and DataCube seismo-acoustic data acquisition systems. CGISS also operates two Sensors and Software PulseEKKO Pro GPR systems with 8 channel, multi-channel adapter, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 MHz antennas; Numerous FMCW radars operating between 500MHz-40 GHz; SnowMicroPenetrometer for measuring snow hardness and microstructure; Finnish Snowfork and Denoth meter for measuring in-situ dielectric properties; NIR cameras for measuring grain size and melt features; laser acoustic tomography system that measures nm-scale displacements of acoustic waves in ice, firn, and rock; Geometrics RX 120-channel and 5 Geode 24 channel seismographs with a variety of sources and receivers for land (including 3-c land streamer), borehole, and marine projects; a Worden gravimeter; Geometrics proton precession total-field magnetic gradiometer and cesium magnetic gradiometer; a Zonge Engineering GDP-16 for electromagnetic surveys, and an IRIS Syscal for electrical resistivity surveys. We also have a variety of borehole geophysical tools: a Mount Sopris borehole geophysics logging system with tools including induction, deviation, gamma spectrum, EM flow meter, acoustic televiewer, and sonic logger. For electronic surveying, we have a pool of Trimble cm-scale differential global positioning system (GPS) and laser distance instrumentation. We have an extensive microwave electronics lab including a 26 GHz Vector Network Analyzer, high end oscilliscopes, 3-D printer, CNC machine, and circuit board printing capabilities.

Additional geophysical research facilities include a permanent hydrogeophysical field laboratory with 18 specially designed and instrumented wells; laboratories for geochemical, geotechnical, hydrogeologic and petrophysical analyses; a 12-station digitally recorded seismic network deployed in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon; and a geographic information systems (GIS) laboratory.

Geophysical and Visualization Hardware/Software. CGISS operates a modern geophysical processing laboratory that includes networked UNIX workstations, Macintosh and Pentium-class PCs (desktops and portables), six machines with GPUs for parallel processing, and a 14 node, 2.8 GHz cluster. CGISS houses numerous peripherals including black/white and color laser printers, a 42-inch color inkjet plotter, tape and CD drives (4 mm, 8mm, SDLT, recordable CD/DVD), color scanners, and massive disk storage. In addition, Boise State University has recently established a 128-node Beowulf cluster that CGISS researchers can access. Software includes more than 30 fully integrated software packages from Landmark’s complete suite of seismic processing, interpretation, visualization, and modeling software (>$7M value), Schlumberger’s IESX multisurvey integrated 2D/3D seismic interpretation package, and GM-SYS interactive gravity and magnetic modeling software. These software packages operate on Linux multiprocessor/clustered workstations. Support software includes Seismic Unix, Matlab, Maple, RayInvr, Rayfract, Surfseis, SPW, Office, Correl, and Adobe software suites. Additionally, CGISS maintains a variety of in-house software for forward modeling and inversion of electrical, electromagnetic, and seismic geophysical data.

The University requires the CGISS research computer network – including hardware/network maintenance and support and software maintenance and licensing – to be self-supporting, and has set up a recharge center to account for access and use related to research activities.  Rates are adjusted periodically to make sure that the center is operating at or near break-even.  The The current rate for research access to the CGISS computer network is $2.15/hr for faculty, research staff, and students working on funded research, and was last set on January 1, 2013.

Faculty and staff currently involved in geophysical research at BSU are:

  1. W. Barrash, Ph.D., University of Idaho, 1986, Research Professor, Hydrogeologic systems, contaminant transport, groundwater restoration, tectonics of the Pacific Northwest.
  2. J.H. Bradford, Ph.D. , Rice University, 1999, Director, Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface, Assistant Professor, environmental and engineering geophysics, cryosphere geophysics, reflection seismology, ground-penetrating radar, wavefield modeling and imaging.
  3. J. Johnson, Ph. D., University of Washington, 2000, Multi-disciplinary geophysical study of eruptive processes using seismic, acoustic, optical, and other techniques.
  4. L. M. Liberty, M.S., University of Wyoming, 1992, Research Professor, Seismic, radar, gravity, and magnetic imaging for structural, hydrogeologic, engineering, and environmental applications.
  5. HP Marshall, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2005, Assistant Professor, snow hydrology, remote sensing, and avalanches; glaciology.
  6. J. P. McNamara, Ph.D. , University of Alaska (Fairbanks), 1997, Assistant Professor, Watershed hydrology, scaling in hydrology and geomorphology, hydrologic aspects of global change.
  7. P. Michaels, Ph.D. , University of Utah, 1993, Associate Professor, Geophysical measurement of engineering parameters of soils, petroleum seismology, computational geophysics.
  8. C. J. Northrup, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996, Assistant Professor, Reconstruction of tectonic evolution through integration of structural/kinematic analyses, metamorphic petrology, and geochronology.
  9. J. R. Pelton, Ph.D. , University of Utah, 1979, Graduate Dean, Professor, and past Director of CGISS, High-resolution seismic and radar imaging of the shallow subsurface; geodetic measurement of crustal deformation.
  10. W. S. Snyder, Ph.D., Stanford, 1977, Emeritus Professor, Structure, stratigraphy, and tectonics of the western United States.
  11. S. H. Wood, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1975, Emeritus Professor, Applied geology and geophysics with emphasis on hydrogeological, geothermal, and engineering problems; analysis of seismic hazards.

The Department of Geosciences, CGISS, and PRI include other geoscientists working in sedimentology and stratigraphy, structural geology, economic geology, igneous petrology, paleontology, oceanography, and geography. The Department offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in geology, geophysics, and earth science education.

For further information contact:

Lee Liberty
1910 University Drive
Boise State University
Boise, ID 83725
Voice: 208-426-1166
FAX: 208-426-4061