Status: ongoing

The Mackenzie Mountains EarthScope Project (MMEP) is a collaborative project to use seismographic and global positioning (GPS) instrumentation to monitor seismicity (earthquake activity) and study the deep Earth under the Mackenzie Mountains region of NWT and Yukon. The project will increase understanding of the major geologic forces and processes that uplifted this mountain belt, and image the structure of the Earth down to many hundreds of kilometers below the surface.

The MMEP will install ~40 earthquake monitoring recorders (seismographs) along a 1000 km line between Skagway, Alaska, and Norman Wells, NWT. Instruments will be installed for 2-3 years, over which time they will passively record naturally occuring earthquakes and their resultant seismic energy. The speed of seismic energy waves is controlled by the Earth’s geologic structure, and modeling of these velocities allows us to recognize hotter and colder regions of the crust and upper mantle (among other features) down to hundreds of kilometers depth. This procedure is similar to medical CAT scan imaging, but based on seismic energy instead of  X-ray energy. Sensitive GPS instruments installed along the transect will record millimeter-scale movement of the crust and allow determination of active deformation within the mountain belt. 

Yukon College Geological Technology students will involved with the project monitoring instrumentation and helping ensure the array is fully functioning year round. A number of student participants will be working with CSU graduate students to learn how to process seismic and GPS data, and interpret data to best understand movement of the crust in southern and eastern Yukon.

Project team

Dr. Derek Schutt (Colorado State University)

Dr. Rick Aster (Colorado State University)

Dr. Jeffrey Freymueller (University of Alaska – Fairbanks)


United States National Science Foundation (NSF)