This experiment had one heck of a long deployment line. After arriving in Reno, Nevada and getting all of the equipment ready there the whole operation moved way east. The line of about 600 recording instruments stretched across the eastern 1/3rd of Nevada to almost all of the way across Utah. The title of this experiment was the Northern Nevada and Utah Transect (NNUT). Impressive, huh?
Like all good experiments this one started with a plan, actually a lot of planning over several weeks prior to our arrival, and a planning meeting the afternoon before the fun began. The goal of the project was the continued study of the thickness of the earth's crust across the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau transition area of the United States that had been started with other experiments by the folks at the University of Nevada at Reno (UNR). The instruments for this experiment were to be laid out and set to record for about 90 continuous hours. During that time it was hoped that any large local earthquakes would be recorded (the sensors were just simple geophones -- not very sensitive) as well as several large mine explosions. There are A LOT of mines in Nevada.
This experiment was "wrangled" by Chris Lopez of UNR. He and several others of the group were the same bunch of Professor John Louie disciples, or crazies, depending on your point of view, that I had the pleasure of working with in July 2003 in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Roberta Stavely, who worked for Refraction Technology Inc., that was manufacturer of the recording instruments, came out for a few days at the beginning of the experiment to see how things are done in the field. She was the one that wrote the firmware that ran the Ref Tek model 125A "Texan" digitizers that were used for this experiment.
The recorders ran on two "D" cell batteries each. That's means we used about 1200 batteries for the experiment. Usually about 1 to 2% of the batteries we manage to buy for these experiments are bad. To keep that kind of thing from causing a loss of data Jim Scott at UNR built a battery tester that estimated how many hours of recording a battery would provide. Since these batteries were new we were betting -- after all it WAS Nevada -- that they would last for at least about 120 hours of recording. The recorders use more power when recording than they do when just waiting around keeping time before and after recording. We tested some of the first new units in the lab and 120 hours was a safe bet. Shane Smith of UNR, above, used the tester to go through all of the batteries and weed out the bad ones before they were loaded into the instruments.
We set up shop in the basement of the geophysics building on the UNR campus. These model 125A instruments were brand new, and were a second generation of the model 125 instrument. This experiment, while having a real interest in collecting data, was also a test to see if we could collect ANY data with the new instruments. We knew we'd get some we just didn't know how much or what it would look like. A group of the future deployers of the new instruments loaded the batteries while Willie Zamora of PASSCAL, Roberta, and me started the process of programming the instruments with their recording schedule. The whole process of programming the 600 instruments took about six hours. As soon as we got enough instruments programmed the members of the different teams of deployers would come by, pick up their instruments, and hit the road to the east.