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Magnetic monitoring in Saguaro National Park

June 2, 2017

On a sandy, arid plain, near the Rincon Moun­tain Visitor Center of Saguaro National Park, tucked in among brittlebush, creosote, and other hardy desert plants, is an unusual type of observatory—a small unmanned station that is used for monitor­ing the Earth’s variable magnetic field. Named for the nearby city of Tucson, Arizona, the observatory is 1 of 14 that the Geomagnetism Program of the U.S. Geological Survey operates at various locations across the United States and Ter­ritories.

Data from USGS magnetic observatories, including the Tucson observatory, as well as observatories operated by institutions in other countries, record a variety of signals related to a wide diversity of physical phenomena in the Earth’s interior and its surrounding outer-space environment. The data are used for geomagnetic mapping and surveying, for fundamental scientific research, and for assessment of magnetic storms, which can be hazardous for the activities and infra­structure of our modern, technologically based society. The U.S. Geological Survey observatory service is an integral part of a U.S. national project for monitoring and assessing space weather hazards.

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