Planning Workshop for the Alaska Primary Site

  icon-map-marker September 22-24, 2011
Portland, Oregon

– Workshop Complete –

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The GeoPRISMS Planning Workshop for the Alaska Primary Site is now Complete!

Many thanks again to all of you for participating in and contributing to a most informative and inspiring planning workshop for future GeoPRISMS and related research in Alaska.


The GeoPRISMS Steering and Oversight Committee is pleased to announce a workshop to develop a detailed science plan for the GeoPRISMS Alaska Primary Site. Alaska was chosen as the highest priority primary site for GeoPRISMS because it offers broad opportunities to address a wide variety of questions outlined within the Subduction Cycles and Deformation (SCD) Science Plan. More details about GeoPRISMS science objectives in Alaska can be found in the GeoPRISMS Science Plans and will serve as the starting points for this workshop.

The main goals of the workshop are to clarify common research objectives in Alaska with both USArray and the Plate Boundary Observatory, to discuss the concept of “Discovery Corridors” and identify candidate areas, and to outline detailed implementation plans and timelines for GeoPRISMS research, considering available resources and infrastructure. White papers will be solicited in advance of the workshop to ensure community input.

Researchers from all countries are encouraged to apply, independent of past involvement in MARGINS. Post-docs, senior graduate students, and members of under-represented groups are especially encouraged to participate. Funding from NSF is expected to cover a significant fraction of travel and accommodation costs for ~75 participants with a diversity of interests. Applications should include a brief statement of interest and anticipated contribution to the workshop and a short C.V.

The program will include a number of overview presentations on Alaska and related MARGINS, GeoPRISMS, and EarthScope research programs, break-out sessions, and plenary discussions, leading to conclusive decisions about science implementation in Alaska.

Workshop Conveners:

Jeff Freymueller – University of Alaska-Fairbanks
Peter Haeussler – USGS, Anchorage
John Jaeger – University of Florida
Donna Shillington – Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Cliff Thurber – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gene Yogodzinski – University of South Carolina
Jeff Marshall – Cal Poly Pomona, Student Coordinator and Symposium Convener

Workshop hotel: Hotel 50, 50 Southwest Morrison Street Portland, OR 97204-3390
Workshop meeting venue: Portland World Trade Center, 121 SW Salmon St, 2WTC, Portland OR 97204

Student Symposium | Wednesday, September 21

6:30 Workshop registration, Ice Breaker, set up regular poster session

Day 1 | Thursday, September 22

Moderators: Cliff Thurber and John Jaeger
7:00 Breakfast at World Trade Center
8:00 Welcome from the conveners, logistics
8:15 Comments from NSF representatives | Bilal Haq & Chuck Estabrook 

8:30 Alaska margin geology and tectonic history
The Alaska convergent margin: 200 million years of subduction/strike-slip tectonics |  6Mb – Terry Pavlis

The basic rock and sedimentary architecture of the submerged Alaska and Aleutian Forearcs – first order observations, questions, and wonderments |  5Mb – Dave Scholl

9:10 Surface processes and tectonics
Mechanics, structure, and evolution of forearcs: the Aleutian margin as seen from a global perspective |  3Mb – Don Fischer

Influence of surface processes and sediment flux on subduction cycles and dynamics |  6MbSean Gulick

9:50 Coffee break

10:10 Megathrust behavior and the spectrum of seismic slip
Global comparison of slow slip behaviors: how does Alaska margin measure up? |  2Mb Susan Schwartz

Contemporary deformation in south-central Alaska |  3Mb – Tabrez Ali

10:50 Magma processes from deep to shallow
Insights from the Aleutians on continental genesis and evolution |  3MbPeter Kelemen

Tracking magma ascent in the Aleutian arc |  2MbStephanie Prejean

11:30 Mantle processes and geodynamics
Dynamic processes in the cold and hot regions of the mantle wedge |  2Mb Ikuko Wada

3D flow in subduction zones: implications for slab temperature and seismic anisotropy |  5MbPeter van Keken

12:15 Lunch

Moderators: Donna Shillington and Peter Haeussler
1:15 Topical talks
Effects of spatial and temporal variation in sediment flux on the Aleutian subduction zone |  6Mb – Bobby Reece
Heat flow measurements and the thermal state of the Alaska convergent margin |  2Mb – Rob Harris

3D geodynamic and geomorphic modelling of the Alaska/Aleutian margin – STEEP and GeoPRISMS |  1MbPhaedra Upton
Linking arc volcanic fluxes and growth rates with Pleistocene climate change: marine tephrostratigraphy of the Aleutian-Alaska volcanic arc | Susanne Straub

Seismic structure of the Aleutian island arc near Adak: finally, a Subduction Factory that actually makes continental crust? |  3Mb Steve Holbrook

2:30 Introduction to break-out process and objectives, including “Discovery Corridor” concept and thematic approach

2:45 Introduction for break-out #1: Research targets and data gaps

Instructions: Identify key onshore and offshore Alaska research targets and data gaps. Work toward convergence on question of Discovery Corridor locations, keeping in mind that some research objectives best-suited to thematic approach.

3:00 Coffee break

3:15 Break-out session #1, Round 1: Research targets and data gaps

1. Controls on size, frequency, and slip behavior of subduction plate boundaries
Co-leaders: Rob Witter, Ray Wells

Scribe: Harmony Colella

2. Spatial ad temporal patterns of deformation through the seismic cycle
Co-leaders: Kelin Wang, Julie Elliott

Scribe: Lindsay Worthington

3. Storage, transfer, and release of volatiles through subduction systems
Co-leaders: Katie Kelley, Richard Allen

Scribe: Christie Till

4. Geochemical products of subduction and creation of continental crust
Co-leader: Steve Holbrook, Michele Coombs

Scribe: Ashley Tibbits

5. Subduction zone initiation and arc system formation
Co-leaders: Gail Christeson, Brad Singer

Scribe: Margarete Jadamec

6. Feedbacks between surface processes and subduction zone dynamics
Co-leader: Steve Kuelh, James Spotilla

Scribe: Bobby Reece

4:00 Break-out session 1, Round 2: Research Targets and Data Gaps (participants are required to change rooms)

4:45 Introduction to Alaska databases
GeoPRISMS Data Portal and MGDS |  1MbAndrew Goodwillie

Geochemical Databases |  1Mb Chris Nye

coffee break

5:15 Panel discussion logistical considerations for working in Alaska (3×5 min)
Marine Geophysical logistics |  3MbDonna Shillington
Onshore Field Geology |  13MbBrad Singer & Chris Nye

Onshore geophysical studies |  13MbJohn Power & Geoff Abers

6:00 Plenary – open mic discussion

6:30 Conference dinner (at World Trade Center)

7:30 Poster session (with cash bar); data mini-session (concurrent with posters)

Day 2 | Friday, September 23

7:00 Breakfast at World Trade Center

Moderators: Gene Yogodzinski and Jeff Freymueller

8:00 Break-out session 1 reports

9:30 Potential partners with GeoPRISMS (Panel)
Panelists provide 2-3 min introductions about representative partner activities, and their relevance to, and opportunities for, GeoPRISMS efforts
USGS/AVO |  2MbJohn Power
USGS, Int. Volcano Hazards Collaboration |  1MbJohn Eichelberger
USGS, Extended Continental Shelf |  1Mb Ginger Barth
Cascadia Initiative | Richard Allen
IRIS/USArray | Bob Woodward
Canada |  1Mb Kelin Wang
Germany and Russia |  1MbChristel van den Bogaard

Japan |  1Mb Yoahi Tatsumi

10:15 Coffee break

10:30 Introduction to break-out session 2: Implementation Strategies

Consider Discovery Corridors for focused research versus a thematic approach. Define overlaps and opportunities between GeoPRISMS & EarthScope activities. Begin to identify potential Discovery Corridors. Discuss possible thematic studies necesssary to complete primary site studies.

10:45 Break out session 2, Round 1: Implementation Strategies

Topics: (break-out leaders and scribes as for session 1)
1- Controls on size, frequency, and slip behavior of subduction plate boundaries
2- Spatial and temporal patterns of deformation through the seismic cycle
3- Storage, transfer, and release of volatiles through subduction systems
4- Geochemical products of subduction and creation of continental crust
5- Subduction zone initiation and arc system formation

6- Feedbacks between surface processes and subduction zone dynamics

11: 30 Break-out session 2, round 2: Implementation Strategies (Participants are required to switch rooms)

12:15 Lunch

Moderators: Donna Shillington and Peter Haeussler

1:30 Break-out session 2 reports

2:30 Plenary – open mic discussion of Implementation Strategies

3:15 Coffee Break

3:45 Introduction to break-out session 3: Discovery Corridors and Themes

Refine potential Discovery Corridor locations across discipline, and resolve implementation gaps that justify thematic studies.

 4:00 Break out session 3: Discovery Corridors and Themes

5:15 Plenary open-mic discussion of Discovery Corridors and Themes

6:00 Dinner on your own (plus sponsored student dinner)

7:30 Poster session (with cash bar)

Day 3 | Saturday, September 24

7:00 Breakfast at World Trade Center

Moderators: Cliff Thurber and John Jaeger

8:00 Break out session 3 reports

9:00 Plenary open-mic discussion with final vote on Discovery Corridors and Themes

10:00 Introduction to break out session 4: data acquisition plans

A) Outline and justify future data acquisition efforts, identify possible community experiments, sequence, and timelines and (B) thematic efforts, especially those not fully addressed by Discovery Corridors

10:15 Coffee break

10:30 Break out session 4: Data Acquisition Plans

11:30 Plenary discussion, student perspective, decision making, and wrap-up


Deploy the Amphibious Array to the Alaska-Aleutian Subduction System |  3Mb – Geoff Abers et al.

Collection of Potential Fields Data to Constrain Spatial Patterns of Deformation in South-Central, Alaska |  2Mb – Diane Doser et al.

The influence of the Yakutat microplate on the Alaska subduction zone |  2Mb – Julie Elliott et al.

The Case for Considering the Entire Aleutian System |  400Kb – John Eichelberger et al.

Understanding Alaska Tsunamis generated by Slope Failure |  2MbGerard Fryer et al.

GeoPRISMS Data Portal |  1MbAndrew Goodwillie et al.

Discovery Corridors, Islands, and Megathrust Earthquake Ruptures (a.k.a. The Megathrust Megaswath) |  2Mb Peter Haeussler et al.

Glacial-Marine Sedimentation: an important dimension of the Alaska/Aleutian Margin |  300Kb – Bernard Hallet & Charles Nittrouer

Seismic structure of the Aleutian island arc near Adak: Finally, a Subduction Factory that actually makes continental crust? |  2Mb Steve Holbrook et al.

3D Numerical Modeling of the Alaska and Central America Subduction Zones: Implications for Plate-Mantle Decoupling |  2MbM. Jadamec et al.

The Timing of Aleutian Arc Inception and Nascent Magmatic Evolution: Current Status and Future Prospects|  1MbBrian Jicha et al.

Impact of the Lithological Input into the Alaska/Aleutian Subduction Zone on Hydrology and Physical State of the Subducting Zone |  100Kb Miriam Kastner et al.

Proposed studies of plutons in the oceanic Aleutian arc: Building blocks for continental crust via arc magmatism |  500KbPeter Kelemen et al.

Variations in Seismicity Along the Central Aleutian Arc: An Opportune Site for GeoPRISMS Research |  400KbKatie Keranen et al.

The Importance of the Land-Based Paleoseismic Record of Giant Subduction Earthquakes Under Southern Alaska as Possible Reference Markers in the Trench Turbidite Record West of Kodiak Island |  100Kb – Stephen Kirby & George Plafker

Off-trench Earthquakes in Alaska and Their Tectonic Significance |  1MbStephen Kirby et al.

Coastal Paleoseismology and Paleotsunami Studies in the Eastern Aleutians: A Focus Region for the GeoPRISMS Subduction Cycles and Deformation Plan |  300Kb Alan Nelson et al.

GeoPRISMS Planning Workshop for the Alaska Primary Site White Paper: An Aleutian Seismological Observatory |  200Kb Stephanie Prejean et al.

Effects of spatial and temporal variation in sediment flux on the Aleutian subduction zone |  300KbBobby Reece et al.

From the Slab to the Surface: Origin, Storage, Ascent and Eruption of Volatile-Bearing Magmas |  500KbDiana Roman et al.

The Aleutian‐Alaska Subduction Zone Is Prone to Rupture in Great and Giant Megathrust Earthquakes — How Scientific Information Can Mitigate Consequences |  900Kb David Scholl et al.

Heat flow measurements and the thermal state of the Alaska convergent margin |  1MbGlenn Spinelli and Robert Harris

Linking arc volcanic fluxes and growth rates with Pleistocene climate change: Marine tephrostratigraphy of the Aleutian‐Alaska volcanic arc |  700KbSuzanne Straub and Gisela Winckler

FlexArray Alaska: Basin-to-slab seismic imaging of subduction tectonics |  3MbCarl Tape et al.

3D geodynamic and geomorphic modelling of the Alaska/Aleutian Margin – STEEP and GeoPRISMS |  400KbPhaedra Upton et al.

Toward a Synoptic View of Alaska-Aleutian Volcanic Rock Geochemistry: The Rationale for a Campaign of Isotope Data Acquisition on Existing Samples |  500Kb Gene Yogodzinski et al.

Call for White Papers

Scientists interested in participating in the development of the implementation plan for Alaska as one of the NSF GeoPRISMS program’s Primary Sites are invited to submit White Papers to the GeoPRISMS Office in advance of the Alaska Primary Site Planning Workshop. White Papers should propose specific science objectives and show suitability for addressing the research themes outlined in the GeoPRISMS Draft Science Plan, specifically the Alaska Primary Site Implementation Plan. Example White Paper topics could include geographic targets or regions relevant to the selection of “Discovery Corridors,” or implementation strategies for carrying out thematic studies deemed necessary to complete primary site studies. To be most effective, White Papers should make an explicit case for how they address one of more of the key SCD questions.

White Papers will be made available to meeting participants and the community prior to the workshop, and will be used in the implementation strategy decision-making process during the workshop.


White Papers submitted by proponent teams are preferred to ensure broader consensus, although individuals are also welcome to submit.

Authors can contribute more than one white paper.

White Papers should be clear and succinct and are limited to 2 pages of text plus 1 page of figures and references.

The conveners reserve the right to restrict dissemination of papers deemed to be too narrow in scope or not aimed at the implementation plan.

Please provide the following header information on each paper (see Word Template):

White Paper Title
Authors and Affiliations
Contact information
Proposed sites and/or themes addressed
Key types of existing or forthcoming data/infrastructure to build upon

GeoPRISMS Student Symposium for the Alaska Primary Site

  Portland, OR
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Graduate Student Symposium and Field Trip will be held on September 21, 2011, in Portland, Oregon, in association with the GeoPRISMS Alaska Primary Site Planning Workshop. All graduate students are encouraged to participate in this pre-workshop program, which is designed to (1) introduce students to the objectives and opportunities of the GeoPRISMS Program, (2) provide scientific background about the Alaska Primary Site, (3) enable brief student presentations, as well as discussion and interaction in a comfortable setting, and (4) visit relevant geologic field sites in the Portland area. All symposium participants will enter the workshop with a rich background in the workshop topics and objectives, a strong cohort of colleagues, and a greater voice in decision-making that will take place during the workshop.

7:30 Breakfast and introduction

8:00 Welcome and symposium objectives | Jeff Marshall & organizers
8:10 Introdution to GeoPRISMS | Juli Morgan
8:30 Alaskan tectonics/structural framework | Peter Haeussler
9:00 Alaskan volcanism | Gene Yogodzinski

9:30 Alaskan surface processes & feedbacks | John Jaeger

10:00 Break

10:30 Student poster session

12:00 Pick-up box lunch, get on bus for field trip; introduction to field trip on bus

1:00 Field trip (Boring Volcanics/Columbia River Gorge)

6:30 Workshop registration, Ice Breaker, set up regular poster session

Poster information

Posters should be 4ft x 6ft in size. If you are bringing a poster from the EarthScope LAB meeting directly prior to the GeoPRISMS Alaska Planning Meeting, some space will be available to accommodate your larger poster.

The poster list can be downloaded here. If you are not on the poster list or would like to update your information, please contact the GeoPRISMS Office as soon as possible. Please note that space for posters is limited.

Helpful Links

Apply to Attend the Workshop
Accept an Invitation to Attend
Submit a White Paper
Final participant list (last update 09-12-11)
Participant lodging list

GeoPRISMS-EarthScope Alaska Planning Workshop group photo.

Outcomes of the GeoPRISMS Alaska Primary Site Implementation Workshop

More pictures of the workshop here

We are pleased to report on the outcome of the most recent GeoPRISMS planning meeting, the GeoPRISMS-EarthScope Planning Workshop for the Alaska Primary Site, held over a 2.5-day period in Portland, OR this past week. Approximately 150 people were in attendance. Substantial discussion took place both in break-outs and in plenary session, leading to a consensus plan for GeoPRISMS science in Alaska.

The primary elements of the science implementation plan are a geophysical transect along the oceanic part of the arc in combination with complementary focused studies of the Alaska Peninsula and Cook Inlet areas.

The geophysical transect along the oceanic arc is envisioned as the “back-bone” which provides a framework for focused studies at point locations encompassing varied aspects of the arc, fore-arc, trench and incoming plate. The chief focal point on the transect is the Amlia Fracture Zone area, where a strong contrast in trench sediment thickness and subducting plate age are linked to distinctive magma chemistry in the arc. This location may also mark a change in seismogenic character. Additional focal points in the Adak and Unalaska areas provide unique opportunities to characterize the birth and evolution of the arc, through geochemical and geochronological studies of plutonic and volcanic rocks produced early in the arc’s history. Volcanoes of the Unalaska area (e.g., Okmok, Akutan, Shishaldin) also provide ideal targets, located on the backbone transect, for slab-to-surface geophysical imaging of the largest and most active volcanic centers in the Alaska-Aleutian subduction system.

The Alaska Peninsula features dramatic along-strike changes in the seismogenic zone, spanning megathrust rupture areas in different parts of their cycles, and is the best location for combining onshore and offshore studies to investigate the causes of these changes. This area allows for focused investigation of segments characterized by creep, segments characterized by wide locked regions, and the boundaries between them. It offers the best opportunity to examine links between seismicity and forearc surface process and variable subduction inputs (e.g., fan sediment, seamounts, Aja Fracture zone). The Alaska Peninsula includes the most productive volcanoes of the continental part of the arc, including both large dominantly basaltic centers and smaller dominantly andesitic centers.

The Cook Inlet area is the continental end-member of the subduction zone, which experienced a watershed megathrust event in 1964, and is dominated in the Quaternary by glacial and other surface processes that direct sediment into the subduction zone and forearc. The clearest evidence in Alaska for large slow slip events and transient changes in the extent of the seismogenic zone come from this region. Cook Inlet and the Alaska Peninsula are also areas with substantial opportunities for synergy with EarthScope and the Alaskan Volcano Observatory, which maintains active monitoring of volcanoes in these regions.

Alaska was chosen as GeoPRISMS Primary Site because of the distinct along-arc changes in volcanism, seismicity, forearc structure, and subducting sediment thickness. Participants recognized that specific synoptic studies that address these spatial changes along the entire arc as opposed to specific target areas were needed. These studies could include geodesy, paleoseismology, surface processes and along-arc sediment transfer, arc geochemistry and geochronology, and passive seismic monitoring.

We would like to thank the meeting attendees for their participation in the process of reaching a consensus on the GeoPRISMS science plan for Alaska. Also, a special thanks to all of the speakers, break-out group leaders, and white paper authors for their contributions in making the workshop such a success. Finally, we want to recognize the enthusiastic participation of the graduate students and post-docs – their input is greatly appreciated.

A number of important tasks lie ahead. The conveners and break-out leaders plan to prepare a comprehensive workshop report for distribution by November 2011, and an updated draft of the GeoPRISMS Alaska science implementation plan by January 2012. The implementation plan will be made available for public comment prior to final release. It will serve as a guide for proposals submitted for the next NSF GeoPRISMS solicitation, July 1, 2012.

Workshop Conveners (in alphabetical order):

Jeff Freymueller – University of Alaska-Fairbanks
Peter Haeussler – USGS, Anchorage
John Jaeger – University of Florida
Donna Shillington – Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Cliff Thurber – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gene Yogodzinski – University of South Carolina
Jeff Marshall – Cal Poly Pomona, Student Coordinator and Symposium Convener

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