Thread: SAGE Magnetotelluric Facility Status Update and Training Opportunities

Started: 2022-05-09 17:15:06
Last activity: 2022-05-09 17:15:06


IRIS Instrumentation Services and the Electromagnetic Advisory Committee happy to provide
an update on the new portable magnetotellurics (MT) instrumentation at
the PASSCAL Instrument Center and development of resources to help
Principal Investigators (PIs) performing MT-related research. This work
is supported by the National Science Foundation as part of SAGE
(Seismological Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience), operated by
IRIS and its partners.

Instrumentation for Magnetotellurics Portable Deployments

The PASSCAL Instrument Center
maintains and loans LEMI-424 long period and Phoenix MTU-5C wide band MT
systems for scientific use by the geophysics research community. The
LEMIs use fluxgate magnetometers and are low-power. They can observe low
frequency variations of the Earth's electric and magnetic fields for
weeks, enabling PIs to produce 3D characterization of the electrical
properties of the crust and upper mantle at regional scales. All PIs
using the LEMIs are eligible to receive complimentary use of the KMS-200
data processing software package for one-year as part of a licensing
agreement with KMS.

The wide band MT systems provide the ability to study shallow and deep
targets in the crust, allowing for higher resolution studies. IRIS has
13 available for use now and is procuring another 9 through early 2023.
These are paired with induction coil magnetometers from Phoenix (MTC-150
and MTC-180) or Zonge (ANT-4 and ANT-7), providing versatility for end
users depending on their expected field conditions. In future years we
plan to acquire auxiliary equipment (steel electrodes, buffered
pre-amplifiers, etc.) to enable these instruments to operate in all
terrestrial environments. PIs have access to the EMPower processing
suite for data acquisition and in-field analyses using PASSCAL field

In both cases, PIC staff are available to provide logistical support at
all stages of an experiment and user training to successfully collect
and archive MT data. In addition, legal consultants have provided
guidance to IRIS and the PIC to ensure that experiments can obtain
export clearance for the magnetometers, since these are controlled goods
in all but 40 countries. Experiments outside the U.S. should consult
with the PIC early in the planning process.

Half-Day Short Course (June 13 in Pittsburgh, PA) - Magnetotellurics at

On the Monday prior to the start of the first in-person SAGE/GAGE
2019, PASSCAL staff are conducting a short course introduce the MT
equipment available to borrow and show how to use them in the field from
deployment to data collection. This program is intended for first-time
users, early-career scientists, and seismologists who are curious about
MT methods, as well as more seasoned MT scientists who would like to
learn about the PIC pool of MT instruments and how to request and use
these community resources. Early bird registration for the workshop ends
on May 17th!

Week-Long Course (October 17-21 in Socorro, NM) - Magnetotellurics
Instrumentation and Software

Save the date! IRIS, PIC staff, and community contributors will hold a
training course in Socorro, New Mexico at the PIC from 10/17-21, 2022.
This training event is intended to orient both experienced and novice MT
users from a variety of backgrounds and career stages with the PIC and
its services, introduce the MT instruments and their science
applications, demonstrate example field deployments, provide
dirt-to-desktop software tutorials, include guided processing of example
dataset, and end with collaborative group exercises. Participant support
(travel, room and board) will be available for at least 15 attendees.
More information will be made available this summer as we develop the
course syllabus.

Data Formatting and Processing Tools

IRIS, in close collaboration with colleagues at the USGS, is continuing
to develop MTH5, a HDF5-based
format for locally storing and exchanging MT datasets, and AURORA, the refactored EMTF codebase (originally
authored by Gary Egbert) to be modular, Python-based, and open-source.
MTH5 follows newMT metadata standards by a group of
international MT practitioners. A full publication on the approach to
MTH5 has been published in Computers and Geosciences
presented recently as an “EMINAR”. We expect to grow the
robustness and functionality of both MTH5 and AURORA during 2022,
including the creation of several Jupyter notebook workflows to document
functionality for new users.

If you have additional questions about opportunities for using NSF's
SAGE facility to conduct research using magnetotellurics, then please do
not hesitate to contact Andy (andy.frassetto<at>


Andy Frassetto (IRIS, MT Program Manager)

Members of the EMAC


Andy Frassetto, PhD, Seismologist
Program Manager
Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology

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