Sure, GPS is cool to have on a road trip, but today, global positioning systems are also being installed to scope out nature's fury.
This ole planet of ours is a slippin' and a slidin' -- that "shifting continental plate" thing.
Scientists have ways to measure whether one mountain peak has moved in relation to another fairly close by. But they can't map with precision how huge areas of the earth's surface are moving. Now, that's changing.
Jackson: "The distances we're talking about can be upwards of a thousand miles and we can track those changes in distance down to about the width of a dime."
That's Michael Jackson, a researcher in a brand new geological project called Earthscope.
Over the next four years, a network of 875 GPS stations and other equipment will be installed around volcanoes and along earthquake fault lines - to measure magma movement and the subtlest shifts in the earth's plates.
(SOUND: drilling rig)
Other Earthscope projects include a 2 1/2-mile deep observatory being drilled directly into the San Andreas fault, and sensors at more than 3000 sites across the U.S.
It's all about exploring the structure and evolution of the north american continent, and helping scientists improve their ability to make "earth-shattering" predictions. I'm Eric Philips.
"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at nsf.gov.