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Scientists Expand Seismic Grid Across U.S.

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This image provided by NASA shows a night time image photographed by the Expedition 29 crew from the International Space Station.
AP Photo/NASA
This image provided by NASA shows a night time image photographed by the Expedition 29 crew from the International Space Station.

USArray, a project funded by the National Science Foundation, will be extending a network of sensors in a grid across the entire East Coast, including Virginia, in an effort to better understand the Earth's surface and its geologic processes.

"You have the San Andreas Fault in California, and a major subduction zone off of Oregon and Washington," says Bob Woodward who runs the USArray project. "It's very clear the forces at play there."

He says it's been hundreds of millions of years since those kinds of forces were active on the East Coast, but that side of the country still gets earthquakes, such as the one in Virginia this summer that cracked the Washington Monument. He says the specific forces are poorly understood.

"With this array, we can image what's under the continent almost like a CAT scan," explains Woodward.

They'll be able to map out even small faults and better understand seismic risk.

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