Quarterly Updates
July - December 2005

Contents

Introduction
Governing Council and Executive Committee Meetings
Changes in the Governing Council and Executive Committee
Data Collection and International Registry of Seismic Stations
Taking Part in UNESCO's Activities
Modernising the ISC Location Procedures
New IASPEI CoSOI Chairman
Collaboration with IASPEI's Working Groups
Visits and Visitors

Introduction

This newsletter covers 6 months of intense ISC activity, associated primarily with editing the ISC Bulletin, ongoing improvements to the software and preparing for the Governing Council (GC) meeting in Chile at the IASPEI assembly. Again, we are proud to report that despite the limited man-power and even with the additional work load caused by the introduction of new software, Dmitry Storchak and Maiclaire Bolton completed the editing of the ISC Bulletin for 2003 before the end of the year. Their hard work is much appreciated.

Governing Council and Executive Committee Meetings

One of the major topics discussed at the meetings of the Executive Committee (EC) and the GC was the annual subscription rate for the GC members.ISC asked the Council to consider an increase in the fee to cover inflation and minimal promotion on the UK academic salary scales and enhancement of the quality of services that the ISC provides. An increase of 5% per annum for the next 2 years was approved. A mechanism that would diminish the necessity to annually change the membership fee to account for the inflation rate and for the significant fluctuations in the dollar exchange rate with respect to the British pound was also discussed.It should be noted that in recent years the /$ moved from 1 = $1.4 to $1.9 which causes a significant reduction of available funds to cover ISC expenses that are almost exclusively in British Pounds. ISC members will be approached to help find a solution.

Changes in the Governing Council and Executive Committee

After 14 years of service to the ISC in all possible capacities from member and chairman of the Governing Council to chairman of the Executive Committee, Professor Adam Dziewonski has stepped down.Prof. Dziewonski represented the US National Science Foundation.At the same time, Dr. Chris Browitt has concluded his term of office as the chairman of the Executive Committee. Dr. Browitt represents the Royal Society of London.Both Adam and Chris were and are still true friends of the ISC.They skilfully and wisely chaired the meetings of the GC and the EC. They have initiated changes and passed resolutions that revolutionised the performance of ISC, actively helped in the toughest task of looking for additional funds and provided good support and useful advice to the ISC directors. We are all grateful to Adam and to Chris for their enormous contributions.

Dr. John Adams, member of the Governing Council representing the Geological Survey of Canada, was elected by the Governing Council to become its new chairman.The Governing Council also elected Prof. Guy Masters to the Executive Committee.He replaces Adam Dziewonski as the representative of the US National Science Foundation. Guy Masters, received his PhD in 1979 from Cambridge University, UK, and as a postdoctoral scholar went to IGPP at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD to work with Freeman Gilbert on the then brand-new IDA network data. He joined the faculty in 1985. The focus of Prof. Masters hasbeen global seismology and he has specialized in global tomography using all kinds of data types.


Guy Masters

The GC, as recommended by their Executive Committee, approved an increase in the number of EC members and elected Dr. Qi Fu Chen who newly represents the China Earthquake Administration (replacing Prof. Chen Yong). We would like to thank Prof. Chen Yong for his long time support and for his important contributions to the ISC.

Dr. Chen is a research professor of Institute of Earthquake Science, China Earthquake Administration. He earned his B.Sc. degree in computational mathematics in 1984 from Fudan University and Ph.D. degree in geophysics in 1997 from Institute of Geophysics, China Seismological Bureau. He was awarded the Science and Technology Award for Chinese Young Scientist by China Associate for Science and Technology in 1997. He worked at the ISC in 2000 as a Royal Society fellow. His research interests focus on the structure of fault zones and mechanisms of earthquakes, earthquake prediction research and seismic risk analysis.


Qi Fu Chen

The Executive Committee assembled after the conclusion of the meeting of the Governing Council and elected Dr. Gary Gibson to become the new chairman of the ISC Executive Committee.

On behalf of ISC staff, all members and data contributors to the ISC, we wish John Adams, Gary Gibson, Guy Masters and Qi Fu Chen great success in their important mission to guide the ISC towards further improvements and greater achievements. We thank again Adam Dziewonski and Chris Browitt for their much appreciated contributions.

Data Collection and International Registry of Seismic Stations

ISC is pleased to have received new data in the July-December 2005 period from:

  • National Centre for Geophysical Research, Lebanon.
  • TUBITAK, Marmara Research Center, Gebze, Turkey.
  • Iraqi Meteorological and Seismology Organization, Ministry of Transport, Baghdad, Iraq.
  • The NRIAG-Egypt

We shall introduce these new data contributors in our forthcoming newsletters.

A major achievement in the course of upgrading ISC's software was the implementation of new software that automatically re-groups seismic events and re-associates phase readings of continuously arriving data from data contributors. Thus, the on-line ISC Bulletin is automatically and continuously updated with as-yet un-reviewed hypocentres and phase associations.Parser maintenance is an ongoing activity at ISC - brought about by small changes to existing data formats due to unforeseen combinations, occasional parser errors or omissions.During this period, 58 new stations were registered on-line in the International Registry using the web-page - www.isc.ac.uk/IR/reg.htm and updates were made to 56 existing stations in the International Registry.

Taking Part in UNESCO's Activities

The ISC was invited and supported by UNESCO, to take part in its initiatives known as RELEMR (Reduce Earthquake Losses in the Extended Mediterranean Region) and RELSAR (Reduce Earthquake Losses in the South Asian Region). A. Shapira has participated in both of the most recent meetings. In cooperation with the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC), the ISC will collaborate on producing a RELEMR earthquake catalogue where the ISC catalogue (1907-1997) and the EMSC catalogue (1998 2004) are to be checked and verified by the local seismological agencies participating in the RELEMR. A similar project was initiated for the RELSAR, using the ISC Bulletin as a reference.Mrs. V. Avirav of the Geophysical Institute of Israel has developed and kindly made available a program for Windows-XP that facilitates a comparison between the ISC catalogue and any local earthquake catalogue. (Copies are available by writing to either veronic@seis.mni.gov.il or to avi@isc.ac.uk ). We trust that by encouraging re-examination of ISC solutions of events located within local seismic networks, we will eventually improve the reliability and accuracy of the locations of seismic events that are provided in the ISC Bulletin.

Modernising the ISC Location Procedures

In response to the decisions and expectations of members of the GC, a workshop on the topic of modernizing ISC location procedures was organised and was held during the IASPEI-2005 meeting in Santiago, Chile in October. The ISC was grateful to see a good number of prominent scientists taking part in that workshop. The workshop was the result of the collective efforts of Johannes Schweitzer of NORSAR and Dmitry Storchak of the ISC, who were chairing the full-day meeting. The matter in question was how to modernize the ISC location procedure that has remained mostly unchanged for at least 30 years.ISC is still using the standard Geiger s least square solutions with Jeffreys uniform reduction method of dealing with residual weighting and JB travel times.

In order to evaluate the results of using particular methods, the workshop contributors were encouraged to use the reference GT(0-5) event list, specially prepared by Bob Engdahl.The workshop participants suggested a number of solutions, but the most important request was to start modifications with the introduction of the AK135 travel time model in place of JB travel time tables.The AK135 was shown by a large number of workshop contributors to provide locations which fit positions of the reference events better. Consequently, the IASPEI Assembly passed a resolution to suggest that data centres use the AK135 model to improve travel time estimations of seismic waves in the real Earth.

Based on this, the ISC was asked to relocate a few months of its Bulletin and make the results available on its web-site, so that a thorough review could be made by interested colleagues on a regional basis with intentions to discuss the results at the second location workshop during the IUGG meeting in Perugia, 2007. It is expected that in the case of a positive outcome, the ISC Governing Council will then make its final decision on changing the travel time model used by the ISC on a routine basis.ISC will then have to seek further funding to relocate its entire database using the new model.

With kind permission from the authors, presentations given at the workshop are available from the ISC website.

New IASPEI CoSOI Chairman

During the IASPEI Assembly in Chile, Dmitry Storchak was appointed as the new chairman of the IASPEI Commission on Seismological Observation and Interpretation (CoSOI) in place of Prof. Jens Havskov, who decided to step down this year. It is a great honour for a member of the ISC staff to guide the commission in its important role of setting good and viable standards of seismological practice.

Under the successful leadership of Jens Havskov, CoSOI has produced a number of important products such as the New Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice, ISF-format and IASPEI standard seismic phase list etc. The working groups of this commission are successfully investigating such important issues as location accuracy and the IASPEI reference event list, magnitude standards, historical data archives and many others. Dmitry believes that the commissions working groups should clearly set their objectives from the outset and continue to work towards the goals, showing progress at some regular intervals. The commission overall should remain responsive to identifying important practical issues and resolving them in time to become useful to seismological observatories, data centres and individual scientists.

Collaboration with IASPEI's Working Groups

When applicable, ISC is trying to be instrumental in supporting IASPEI activities and implement its resolutions and recommendations. We are currently involved with the activities of the working group on Seismic Stations Code Names that was formed at the initiative of NEIC, EMSC and ISC to better characterise the station in the context of its deployment, to accommodate the need to better credit the owners, operators and data providers and to facilitate the integration of stations of small seismic arrays, temporary deployments and strong motion stations. Any change from the current coding system will have severe implications for seismological analysis software everywhere. Consequently, it will take some time before an agreement can be reached.

ISC is also collaborating with the Working Group for Reference seismic Events and subject to the availability of extra funds, is planning to be a focal point for collecting information about new candidate reference events, compiling and maintaining a data base of well located earthquakes and explosions.

IASPEI's working group on magnitude has summarized its recommendations. ISC will try to be instrumental in disseminating the approved recommendations among seismological centres and implement them.

Maiclaire Bolton, together with D. Storchak and supported by James Harris, has initiated a discussion on the default depths to be used at ISC in the cases where the location procedures require fixing the depth. The main motivation is to replace the current practice of fixing the depth of assumed crustal earthquakes to 33km or to multiples of 50km when assuming deeper foci. A preliminary concept was presented by Maiclaire during the IASPEI meeting.

Visits and Visitors

James Harris, the ISC's System and Database Administrator attended the Cyberinfrastructure Summer Institute for Geoscientists (CSIG) at the University of California, San Diego in July.This course provided an insight to modern IT methods and their application in the field of geoscience. With the ever increasing complexity of data, new methods of storing, retrieving and sharing this resource are important.James has also visited theIRIS Data Management Center in Seattle, Washington. The visit was principally to look at the FISSURES Data Handling Interface and the possibility of linking the ISC database into the IRIS system. The visit also provided a good overview of IRIS and their data and data management systems.

Avi Shapira, director of ISC, represented the ISC in the joint general assembly of EMSC (European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, Paris) and ORFEUS (Observatories and Research Facilities for EUropean Seismology) in Paris in September.


A Malovichko, D Storchak and O Starovoit at Geophysical Survey, Russia

Whilst on his annual leave in August, Dmitry Storchak visited Geophysical Survey of Russian Academy of Sciences (GS RAS) in Obninsk.RAS is a long standing member of the ISC Governing Council, making one of the largest contributions to ISCs funding as well as important data contributions to the ISC Bulletin.At present 4 regional data centres from Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Kuril Islands and Baikal contribute their parametrical data along with the main data contribution from Obninsk.The ISC is grateful to Irina Gabsatarova, Nina Shatornaya, Vera Babkina and Olga Kamenskaya of GS RAS, who have recently put lots of effort and time in streamlining all the contributions and changing them into the ISF format, favoured by the ISC.This work pleased the ISC data input manager, Peter Dawson, a great deal as it released him to attend to other duties.

Dmitry had a long discussion with Oleg Starovoit, member of the ISC Executive Committee and Aleksey Malovichko, the new Head of the GS RAS with regard to further data exchange with the ISC. It is the mutual intention of both GS RAS and the ISC to continue to make more regional data available to the ISC Bulletin users.

Avi Shapira was invited to an international workshop, organized and sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, the IRIS Consortium and NSF, on the utilization of seismographic networks within the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) in Washington DC in August 2005. The workshop focussed on three topics emphasized in the GEOSS Implementation Plan: Networks, Data, and Products. Avi chaired one of the sessions and also presented the ISC as a "system of observing system" and its role in 100 years of collecting and integrating seismological information from seismological agencies from all over the world. The European Seismological Commission (ESC) has nominated A. Shapira to be a member of a special committee to evaluate the structure of the ESC.Avi participated in the meeting of that committee, organized and supported by the University Genoa.

A. Shapira also participated in a 2-day workshop in Obidos, Portugal, in November, to discuss methodologies to approach the issue ofvery large earthquake disaster potential around the Mediterranean. Avi also discussed the possibilities to use ISC data in processes for rapid earthquake losses assessments. The workshop was organized and sponsored by Instituto de Ciencias da Terra e do Espa�,Lisboa, Portugal.

Maiclaire Bolton attended the AGU fall meeting in San Francisco where she had the opportunity to see where and how the ISC data is being used as well as learning of the new developments within the seismological community.

In July 2005, we were honoured by the visit of a delegation from the China Earthquake Administration (CEA) headed by CEA's deputy Director General Prof. Yue Mingsheng.Kevin Mayeda, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, USA, visited ISC in August 2005.

In November, 2005, we were pleased to have a group of students to visit from the Imperial College of London. The students were briefed by A. Shapira about ISC, its activities and its products.