Technical accomplishments of the past 10 years in the design and deployment of sea floor broadband seismic systems are now making it possible to start addressing the issue of the limited coverage of the Earth that can be achieved through land-based installations, at the regional or global scale. In particular, the September 2002 Ocean Mantle Dynamics (OMD) workshop in Snowbird, Utah [OMD Workshop Committee, 2003] proposed the development of two “leap-frogging arrays” of about 30 broadband sea floor instruments to fill geophysically important target holes in ocean coverage for deployment periods of 1 to 2 years. The rationale for an off-shore (“Webfoot”) component of the SArray/Earth-scope “Bigfoot” array was also highlighted at this meeting, pointing out that the study of the North American continent should not stop at the ocean margin.
The ocean floor environment is challenging for broadband seismology for several reasons. Broadband seismometers cannot be simply “dropped off” a ship with the expectation that they will produce useable data, particularly on the horizontal components. Several pilot experiments, [e.g., Montagner et al., 1994; OSN1, 1998; Suyehiro et al., 2002] have addressed the issue of optimal installation of ocean bottom stations, and in particular, have carried out comparisons between borehole, sea floor, and buried sea floor installations.