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The first 3D conductivity model of the contiguous US: Reflections on geologic structure and application to induction hazards

September 16, 2019

Estimation of ground level geoelectric fields has been identified by the National Space Weather Action Plan as a key component of assessment and mitigation of space weather impacts on critical infrastructure. Estimates of spatially and temporally variable electric fields are used to generate statistically based hazard maps and show promise toward monitoring and responding to geomagnetic disturbances in near real‐time. One approach to geoelectric field estimation is to employ three‐dimensional (3D) Earth conductivity models. These data‐constrained conductivity models are the results of regional magnetotelluric inversions based primarily on NSF’s Earthscope USArray impedances, which to date cover ~60% of the contiguous United States. Here, we present the first‐ever composite conductivity model of the contiguous United States and describe its compilation from 3D regional conductivity models, a global mantle conductivity model, offshore bathymetry, and sediment thickness data. We discuss structures within the conductivity model and how they relate to the complex geologic tapestry of the continent. Finally, we discuss the utility of this synthesis model for estimation and mitigation of geomagnetically induced currents.