Quarterly Updates
July - September 2006

Contents

New ISC Logo
New Staff
Measuring Techniques
Further Computing Progress
Visits and Visitors
Support for ISC
Co-ordination Meeting Held in Colorado
Last but not Least

New ISC Logo

We have a new ISC logo. It is actually the first ISC logo and it has been designed with the help of the design team of the Royal Society of London and selected by ISC staff from a number of alternatives. The designers also helped to create this newsletter. We thank the Royal Society for this contribution, in particular Ms. Ruth Cooper, whose supporting efforts have resulted in the new logo and the new style of ISC newsletter.


New Staff

The number of staff at the ISC is on the increase. ISC is continuously updating and upgrading its computer systems, both hardware and software, and consequently was faced with an urgent need to increase its technical staff. In July 2006 we invited Oriol Gaspa Rebull from Barcelona, Spain, to join the ISC. Oriol was carefully selected from the many applicants for the position.


Oriol pinpoints his new location

Oriol is a graduate of the University of Barcelona (Physics). During the last 2 years he was a postgraduate student at the Earth Science Institute "Jaume Almera" in Barcelona working in the field of Seismology. Oriol has gained knowledge and much experience in programming and the supervision of computer systems which made him the ideal candidate for the ISC job.

One of the first tasks he undertook was to update the on-line ISS information which is offered on the ISC web site. The ISC has been publishing Bulletins since 1964, continuing the task of the International Seismological Summary (ISS), which was the first ever organisation established to compile earthquake locations from ISC observatories and agencies all over the world, from 1918 until 1963. These data have been available in a digital form at the ISC webpage since year 2000. The files contain source information for almost 25,000 events, manually typed into the database together with some inevitable typographic errors. The ISC has recently updated its historical database based on a revised digital hypocentre catalogue for the ISS (Villaseñor et al 1997, EOS V.78 No.50) available at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/data/iss_summ.php A total number of 329 hypocentres have been corrected and 34 missing events from the bulletins have been introduced. Although inaccuracies may still be present the actual catalogue is the best and most detailed list of historical hypocentres since its digital appearance. Further information on the revision procedures are described by Villaseñor and Engdhal 2005 (SRL V.76 No.5).

Measuring Techniques

Services provided by ISC are products of the data and other information contributed to ISC by the international seismological community. The great diversity in the instruments, processing techniques and measurements practiced by the many different seismological institutions is a source for the uncertainty and scatter in the estimations that the ISC produces in its Bulletin. Adherence to standards set by IASPEI is good practice in order to reduce the scatter and uncertainty and minimise ambiguities. Following the implementation of IASPEI recommendations on seismic phase nomenclature, on regionalization and on data exchange format (i.e., ISF), ISC is planning for the implementation of IASPEI standards for magnitude determinations.

The IASPEI Working Group on Magnitudes has presented it recommendations to standardize amplitude measurements and magnitude formulae. The recommendations were approved by the IASPEI Commission on Seismological Observations and Interpretations (CoSOI). ISC is helping to distribute the adopted recommendations and encourages data contributors to implement them. (Please see http://www.isc.ac.uk/doc/analysis/2006p03/magletter.html ). It is important to emphasize that along with the collection of amplitude measurement data made according to IASPEI standards, ISC will continue to collect non-standard amplitude data and compute mb and Ms magnitude as they have for the last 40 years. However, we are not always clear how amplitudes and periods are currently measured at the different institutions. In the attached letter we urge all data contributors to provide information regarding what amplitudes they measure and how they compute magnitudes. Please feel free to distribute the enclosed letter around your local seismological community.

Further Computing Progress

In the process of updating and upgrading our computer facilities, James Harris, Peter Dawson and Oriol are investigating the possibility of moving to using a LINUX operating system with PC computers and thereby reduce the costs of computer replacement and maintenance. We are also changing our Internet provider and have added a broad-band internet line to improve on-line services by enabling faster accessibility to the ISC website and reducing the load on the currently used line.

We have also started work on improving the ISC website both to help maintenance internally and to improve services on offer. These changes will alter some of the URL addresses of specific pages.

Visits and Visitors

Avi Shapira participated in the general assembly of the European Seismological Commission and also represented ISC in the meeting of the governing council of EMSC.

During the summer period, we were honoured by a visit from Dr Bernie Jones, International Affairs section of the Royal Society of London. We used the opportunity to describe to Dr. Jones the work and operations of the ISC and through him to thank the Royal Society for many years of co-operation and support for the Centre.

We were also pleased to welcome Dr. Stephen Myers of the Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratories of the USA.

Support for ISC

An ISC grant application to the US National Science Foundation (NSF) entitled "Partial Support of the International Seismological Centre" was approved by the Instrumentation and Facilities Program in the Division of Earth Sciences of NSF. Our proposal was selected out of more than 150 proposals and it was noted that NSF support for the ISC was strongly supported by the seismological community. The proposal comprised a four-year programme of support for which we are most grateful to the NSF.


Co-ordination Meeting Held in Colorado

A co-ordination meeting between ISC, the National Earthquake Information Center of the USGS (NEIC) and Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) took place in Golden, Colorado in September. ISC was represented by James Harris, Dmitry Storchak and Avi Shapira. The three data centres agreed on the need to change the current practice of naming seismic stations and also exchanged views on a possible new system for network and station code names. A joint proposal to the IASPEI Working Group on Seismic Code Names is being prepared. Following the discussions on station code names it became evident that there is an urgent need for an international registry of code names (or abbreviations) of seismological institutions to allow an appropriate acknowledgement of the institutions that provide seismological data to international data centres. It is expected that the IASPEI WG on code names will address this problem and make recommendations.


Ray Buland (NEIC) during the tripartite meeting

Other topics discussed include naming areas that are sub-divisions of the used regionalization scheme (e.g., Flinn-Engdahl regions), using the EIDS (Earthquake Information Distribution System) for data exchange between ISC, EMSC and NEIC, mutual back-up of seismic information, assessments of the location error ellipse and adoption of the IASPEI standards for magnitude determinations.

Avi, James and Dmitry were very interested in the HYDRA system which was recently developed by NEIC for its main operations and real-time services. We take this opportunity to thank USGS/NEIC and especially S. Sipkin, R. Buland and B. Presgrave for organizing the meeting and for their friendly hospitality.


A resident of Colorado not invited to the meeting

Last but not Least

In September 1986 a young woman named Maureen Aspinwall joined the ISC. We recently celebrated Maureen's 20th anniversary in the service of the ISC. The many people who have worked at the ISC over the years greatly appreciate the warm co-operation and assistance granted by Maureen. All member organizations know Maureen in her capacity as the ISC administration officer yet to those who work with her, Maureen is lighthouse in the maze of British bureaucracy, banking regulations, accommodation requirements, travel arrangements and much more. On behalf of the ISC personnel, members of the ISC, its data contributors and friends all over the world we would like to express our gratitude. We thank you Maureen very much.