PICTS: A new seismic network in Eastern Scotland to investigate the Highland Boundary Fault

The PICTS project, standing for Probing Into the Crust Through eastern Scotland, is research to uncover the role that the Highland Boundary Fault (HBF) has played in building Scotland using seismology.

The uppermost part of the Earth is divided into, blocks known as tectonic plates. The largescale features we see on the Earth’s surface, and many resources we depend on, are formed as these plates move apart, collide, or slide past each other. Studying ancient plate boundaries, such as the HBF, is key to understanding processes occurring on such boundaries today. One way we can study the interior of the Earth is to use recordings (seismograms) of distant earthquakes made by at instruments (seismometers) located in the region we’re interested in. We can use the seismic energy, in a similar way to how x-rays are used in CAT scanners in medical imaging, to make an image of the Earth.

Starting in March 2022, we want to install three lines of closely-spaced seismometers for 12 months across the HBF in eastern Scotland. The data collected will help us to determine if it marks a major plate boundary, uncover what role it had in the building of Scotland, and determine if there are any very small earthquakes occurring on this part of the HBF today.

The PICTS project is supported by funding from a Royal Society of Edinburgh Small Grant, and is a collaboration with BGS Seismology.

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