[unav_all] NSF cuts out remaining Aleutian volcanoes from PBO, response planned

Jeff Freymueller jeff at giseis.alaska.edu
Tue Aug 2 23:39:35 MDT 2005

As many of you know already, NSF decided a couple of weeks ago to cut 
the remaining Aleutian volcano centers from the PBO. The stated 
rationale for their decision was that they only ever approved the 
deployment of sites at two centers in the Aleutians, and now that small 
networks have been deployed at two (on schedule and under budget), they 
can declare it finished. Their reasoning is that the PBO White Paper 
said there would be 2 centers instrumented in the Aleutians, and that 
was what they approved, and all later revisions to the PBO plan (i.e., 
the decisions of the Palm Springs workshop) are now viewed as "mission 
creep" that can be ignored. To put it mildly, this is an 
extraordinarily selective reading of the history of the PBO deployment 
plan and the EarthScope proposal, especially since the EarthScope 
facilities proposal (funded by NSF, last I checked) stated that there 
would be 48 sites on Aleutian volcanoes. To put it less mildly, 
(derogatory statement deleted by the author).

In my opinion, NSF's stated basis for the decision is flimsy, poorly 
reasoned, and, if allowed to stand, will set a precedent that will 
allow them to cut out any part of PBO that they feel like removing, no 
matter what our views are. It should not be allowed to stand, and the 
only real hope for reversing it is a strong outcry from the broad 
community. Beyond that there are only actions akin to the "nuclear 
option", but involving Congress in this is so likely to have negative 
consequences that I do not think it would be wise for my colleagues and 
I to inform Sen. Stevens that NSF decided to gut a major part of the 
Alaska portion of EarthScope that we asked him so insistently to vote 
for. So don't even suggest that, I've already ruled it out.

I am in the process of drafting a response letter that will ask NSF to 
reverse this unfortunate decision. I hope to have a letter ready by 
late tomorrow, and I will be seeking as many co-signers for this letter 
as I can get. I would like to send the letter off this week, as I have 
been told that a community response by the end of this week is most 
likely to have an impact. In the meantime, you can read the exchange of 
letters that describe NSF's decision and the response of the PBO 
Standing Committee and the EarthScope Facilities Executive Committee. 
Read them at the EarthScope Documents archive 
(http://www.earthscope.org/links_pubs/documents.shtml), form your own 
opinions, and if you agree this is a bad situation, please be ready to 
co-sign to the letter and/or send your own. There will be a very short 
timeframe for this response, which is especially short because NSF 
decided to make this decision in the middle of the summer field season, 
and all of the logical people to organize a response to save the 
Aleutian volcanoes have been out of town.

Remember, if they can do this to one part of PBO based on their 
reasoning that they never approved anything beyond the PBO White Paper, 
they can do it to any part of PBO. Including your favorite part. Did 
you think the Palm Springs Workshop was an empty exercise? Evidently 
NSF does. We need to respond!


Dr. Jeffrey T. Freymueller         Office: 907-474-7286
Geophysical Institute              Fax:    907-474-7290
University of Alaska, Fairbanks    Home:   907-479-3550
PO Box 757320                      Cell:   907-322-7632
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320           email: jeff at giseis.alaska.edu
URL: http://www.gps.alaska.edu/jeff/jeff.html

Download Alaska GPS data: ftp://gps.alaska.edu/pub/gpsdata/
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