EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

High-latitude, high-altitude seismic stations on Mt. Erebus, Antarctica

Avilash Cramer1, Madeline Hunt1, Kirsten Arnell1, Alan Horton1, Susan Stanford1, Kent Anderson2, and Bruce Beaudoin1
Avilash Cramer et al.
  • 1PASSCAL Instrument Center, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, USA
  • 2Earthscope Inc, USA

Mt Erebus, the world’s southernmost active volcano, is only 30 miles from McMurdo Station (US) and Scott Base (NZ). Scientific instruments deployed on the volcano need to survive a range of environmental factors including high winds, extreme cold, lava bombs, and months of total darkness. Additionally, the reduced air pressure at high elevations affects the lift of the helicopters and the physiology of the engineers during installation.

We present a novel design for a network of environmentally hardened seismic stations intended specifically for the constraints of this polar volcano. The purpose of the network is to provide a baseline measurement of volcanic events and act as a fiducial array for future experiments. Stations are designed to function continuously over both summer and winter for years at a time. The station’s instrument package comprises a data logger recording broadband seismic and infrasound data, and a second data logger recording strong-motion seismic data.  The station design is modular and can be scaled for various experiment requirements and easily adapted for different instrument packages.

Station state-of-health will be monitored at the EarthScope Primary Instrument Center (EPIC, formerly IRIS PASSCAL) and low sample rate (20 sps) broadband data are transmitted by Iridium modems and captured in near-real time. Higher sample rate (100-200 sps) data are recorded locally and collected annually during the austral summer. All data will be available from the EarthScope Data Management Center (network codes 1G, 8E, and 2H).

A prototype was installed near McMurdo station in 2021/22 season and evaluated over the Antarctic winter. Based on this prototype, four stations recording data from nine instruments were installed around Mt Erebus in the 2022/23 season. An additional three stations of an older design that are recording data from five instruments were installed in previous seasons as part of an interim network. These stations will be upgraded to the new design in upcoming seasons.

Our talk will center on the following three components:

1) the electrical and mechanical design of this new station, including power electronics, satellite telemetry, insulation, and rigging;

2) the logistics of Antarctic volcanology, including site selection, geographical constraints, and US Antarctic Program helicopter operations;

3) recent results and future plans for maintaining and upgrading seismic networks on Mt. Erebus.

How to cite: Cramer, A., Hunt, M., Arnell, K., Horton, A., Stanford, S., Anderson, K., and Beaudoin, B.: High-latitude, high-altitude seismic stations on Mt. Erebus, Antarctica, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9287,, 2023.