COVID-19 Update on IRIS Operations

April 16, 2020

Dear IRIS Colleagues,

IRIS staff are continuing to work remotely, and as the states in which we operate are extending their “stay at home” policies well into May, and even June in some cases, it appears that we will continue in this operational mode for quite a while. After consultation with NSF, the bulk of the TA station removals planned for this summer in Alaska have been postponed until 2021. As a result, we will continue to telemeter data from the Alaska TA network until May 1, 2021 (we had planned on shutting off data flow on May 1, 2020).  

Over 20 PASSCAL field studies planned for this field season have been postponed (both new experiments and demobilizations of existing experiments). We are waiting for guidance from NSF on rescheduling this work. We are still providing instruments for rapid response studies including the recent Utah and Idaho earthquakes. If you need instruments for this kind of work in the future, please contact PASSCAL. GSN data continue to be collected, but maintenance on GSN sites has been deferred unless it can be carried out remotely.

The Data Management Center has been operating normally with the staff 100% teleworking. The number of visits to the DMC website has not diminished, data shipments have remained steady, and the demand for data products has actually increased. EPO’s InClass download and animations views have increased 20% over a year ago and we have seen a huge increase in social media activity (Facebook+Twitter) and YouTube.

I know many of you have questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on NSF. I wanted to draw your attention to on-line resources, such as this NSF website which provides general information and FAQs on NSF’s response to the COVID-19 situation.

More specific information on Office of Polar Programs science support and operational changes in response to the pandemic can be found on this OPP site.

Last week, NSF's Earth Sciences Division held a “Virtual Office Hours” Q&A session on COVID-19 impacts.  Here is a copy of the slides from that session:

We are expecting updates from NSF on this guidance in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. In the mean time, STAY SAFE!!!

Bob Detrick

March 27, 2020

Dear Members of the IRIS Community,

The only significant change in the operational status of IRIS since my update last week is that DC Mayor Bowser has closed all non-essential businesses in the District until April 24th. As a result, IRIS HQ staff is operating entirely remotely. The TA staff is continuing to monitor the situation in Alaska and are developing contingency plans for this summer's field work given potential restrictions on travel to and within Alaska and across the U.S-Canadian border. As noted last week, PASSCAL is seeing a number of field programs postponed or canceled but is using this time to complete several important in-house projects that always seemed to get put on the back-burner.

Please help us all protect the most vulnerable people in our society by respecting the requests of authorities to remain at home, practice social distancing, and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. You may also want to consider making a gift to the Red Cross or other local charities who provide help to those who are really struggling to get through these difficult times.

Stay safe!
Bob Detrick

March 19, 2020

Dear Members of the IRIS Community,

We hope you, and your families, are safe and in good health. Like you, we at IRIS are continuing to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and the latest information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and state and local public health officials. IRIS will continue to operate the SAGE facility with as little disruption as possible while still keeping our employees and their families healthy and safe .  

Here is an update on the current status of IRIS operations:

GSN: The GSN continues to operate normally. UCSD Data Collection Center (DCC) staff are teleworking and overseeing data collection, QC monitoring etc. Bans on foreign travel have suspended GSN station maintenance visits by UCSD field engineers although some station maintenance can be done remotely.  

PASSCAL: The PASSCAL Instrument Center continues to operate although new mandates from the state and NMT will impact operations. Scheduled PASSCAL experiments are beginning to be postponed/canceled because of travel restrictions. However, other activities at the PIC continue to be supported. For example, we are shipping 100 nodes to the University of Utah for after-shock studies of yesterday's M5.7 earthquake.  

TA-AK: The impact on TA-AK to date has been minimal, but we are very concerned about potential restrictions on internal travel within Alaska and closure of the US-Canada border on our summer field season which begins in April. We are monitoring this situation closely. 

DMC: The DMC is operating normally; 100% of the DMC staff are teleworking.  

EPO: The EPO staff is 100% teleworking. Meetings EPO staff were planning to participate in this Spring (NSTA, the USA Engineering and Science Festival and SSA) have been canceled and the 2020 IRIS Undergraduate Internship Program has been suspended. EPO staff have been working to facilitate on-line learning to assist university faculty who now must teach their courses remotely. Planning for the GAGE-SAGE workshop in August is continuing. 

IRIS HQ: Most IRIS HQ staff are teleworking, with a few staff working in the office, some just a couple of days a week, to deal with management activities that require a physical presence in the office. Contingency planning is underway to continue operations if local/state governments mandate the closure of all non-essential businesses. 

In these difficult times, please look after your health and that of your families. It is everyone’s first priority. Meanwhile, we will do everything we can to continue to provide the services you expect from the IRIS-operated SAGE facility. 

Stay safe!
Bob Detrick