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Bear encounters with seismic stations in Alaska and northwestern Canada

Carl Tape, David C. Heath, Michael G. Baker, Scott Dalton, Kasey Aderhold and Michael E. West
Bear encounters with seismic stations in Alaska and northwestern Canada
Seismological Research Letters (August 2019) Pre-Issue Publication: 1950-1970


A typical seismic experiment involves installing 10-50 seismometers for 2-3 yr to record distant and local earthquakes, along with Earth's ambient noise wavefield. The choice of the region is governed by scientific questions that may be addressed with newly recorded seismic data. In most experiments, not all stations record data for the full expected duration. Data loss may arise from defective equipment, improperly installed equipment, vandalism or theft, inadequate power sources, environmental disruptions (e.g., snow covering solar panels and causing power outage), and many other reasons. In remote regions of Alaska and northwestern Canada, bears are a particular threat to seismic stations. Here, we document three recent projects (Southern Alaska Lithosphere and Mantle Observation Network, Fault Locations and Alaska Tectonics from Seismicity, and Mackenzie Mountains EarthScope Project) in which bears were regular visitors to remote seismic stations. For these projects, there were documented bear encounters at 56 out of 88 remote stations and 6 out of 85 nonremote stations. Considering bear-disrupted sites--such as dug-up cables or outages--there were 29 cases at remote stations and one case at nonremote stations. We also compile bear encounters with permanent stations within the Alaska Seismic Network, as well as stations of the Alaska Transportable Array. For these two networks, the stations are designed with fiberglass huts that house and protect equipment. Data losses at these networks because of bears are minor (<5%), though evidence suggests they are regularly visited by bears, and data disruptions are exclusively at remote stations. The primary goal of this study is to formally document the impacts of bears on seismic stations in Alaska and northwestern Canada. We propose that the threat of damage from bears to a station increases with the remoteness of the site and the density of bears, and it decreases with the strength and security of materials used. We suggest that low-power electric fences be considered for seismic stations--especially for temporary experiments--to protect the equipment and to protect the bears. With the goal of 100% data returns, future seismic experiments in remote regions of bear country should carefully consider the impacts of bears.

ISSN: 0895-0695
EISSN: 1938-2057
Serial Title: Seismological Research Letters
Serial Volume: Pre-Issue Publication
Title: Bear encounters with seismic stations in Alaska and northwestern Canada
Affiliation: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute, Fairbanks, AK, United States
Pages: 1950-1970
Published: 20190821
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, El Cerrito, CA, United States
References: 46
Accession Number: 2019-082881
Categories: Environmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 3 tables, sketch maps
N42°00'00" - N84°00'00", W141°00'00" - W52°00'00"
N51°00'00" - N72°00'00", W130°00'00" - E173°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Colorado State University, USA, United StatesIncorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201944
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