Friday, February 26, 2010

Linking Seismic Networks


A rational call goes out to link the balkanized seismic networks of the Arabian Penn. On the surface, it is a neat idea, but it can't be done.

For our example, you just have to look at the US. Each state has it's own seismic network. The only regional, linked network is the federal net, with something like one or two seismometers per state. No separate seismic network is linked, rather these are designed as homogeneous networks from the start.

The big problem is that all the hardware is different, and events have to be picked over by a seismologist experienced with the quirks of that particular network. They can phone in their particular picks and locations, but it's not the same. I always thought that the study of interior earthquakes was doomed by this state-centric approach, but that's how the money crumbles. Many interesting seismic zones are unfortunately located on state borders!

We were lucky in Canada to hammer together a gold-medal seismic network for Ontario and BC, right from the start. Even though, it cannot interact with the old seismic networks, which are being replaced by Polaris instruments. So, the moral of the story is to design for integration right from the start.

If I were King Seismic of the world, I would lay in uniform seismic monitoring of all my designated interior seismic zones. It would prove once and for all the deadly seriousness of these zones, and how they grow into monsters. No more would they be laughed at, saying that they had all shot their load, and are past their prime! :)

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