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SZ4D MultiArray

by Diana Roman (Carnegie Institution, SZ4D Vice Chair)

Jun 28, 2024

Preparing for SZ4D's Major Infrastructure Effort

SZ4D is gearing up for its major infrastructure effort, a large-scale, long-term, and shoreline-crossing network of geophysical, geochemical, and environmental sensors known as ‘MultiArray’, with a proposal to NSF’s Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-2 (MSRI-2) Program anticipated in 2025. Although the MSRI-2 solicitation has not yet been released, the scale of this proposal requires a significant amount of planning. The OPC-I is leading the planning in anticipation of the next solicitation or other opportunities. The work is being closely coordinated with SZ4D Vice-Chair Diana Roman, who has agreed to lead the proposal.

Introduced in 2019, the MSRI Program is a relatively new opportunity aimed at cutting-edge research infrastructure projects whose total costs are between $20-$100 million. According to NSF, “the Mid-scale RI-2 Program emphasizes projects that have strong scientific merit, respond to an identified need of the research community, demonstrate technical and project management readiness for implementation, include a well-developed plan for student training in all activities leading to and including the implementation of the mid-scale research infrastructure, and involve a diverse workforce in mid-scale research infrastructure development, and/or associated data management. Training of students in design and implementation of the research infrastructure is essential.” Recent awards at the MSRI-2 level have been made to support projects to develop new instruments for storm and climate research (APAR), robotic networks to observed changing ocean chemistry and biology (Biogeochemical-Argo), and distributed energy resources (DERConnect), among other important large-scale research infrastructure endeavors.

SZ4D’s MultiArray must be carefully designed to provide observations critical to answer the questions and address underlying hypotheses as developed in the SZ4D Implementation Plan To ensure that MultiArray is optimized to most effectively and efficiently meet SZ4D science goals, a multi-PI team, led by Roman, recently submitted a proposal to NSF to use state-of-art in knowledge, observations, and numerical models to develop and evaluate potential MultiArray configurations. This proposal lays out a plan to accomplish this optimization through 10 Work Packages (WP) that build on previous SZ4D efforts and culminate in a set of design guidelines that will inform the final plan for MultiArray. The proposed Work Packages were strategically selected because they directly affect high-priority elements of the draft implementation plan and have identifiable, tractable development needs that should be addressed prior to implementation of MultiArray.

An essential and substantial component of an MSRI-2 proposal is the Project Execution Plan (PEP), which defines the project scope, costs, schedules, milestone, risks, contingencies, and roles and responsibilities of the Project Management Team, along with strategies to assess performance against the project’s scope, budget, and schedule, and to use formal project management tools to document performance throughout the project lifetime. Given the required expertise of professional project managers, SZ4D has, with support from Carnegie Science, begun working with Dash360, a Texas-based firm specializing in planning and management of large research infrastructure projects, to begin developing these critical aspects of SZ4D’s MultiArray proposal and operations plan.

Over the coming year, SZ4D will be working with Dash360 and major project partners such as Earthscope Consortium to continue to develop a proposal for MultiArray, including its budget, PEP, and staffing and operations plan. We anticipate holding a community townhall in Fall 2024 to inform the SZ4D community of our progress and to gain feedback and guidance on the vision for MultiArray and how the novel observations it will provide can best be used to make major leaps in understanding of geohazardous phenomena.

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