U.S. Geological Survey Enhances Services

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has enhanced the earthquake monitoring services offered by its National Earthquake Information Centre (NEIC).

In recent weeks, the NEIC has changed to a 24 hour per day, seven days per week, operation. The round-the-clock operation is expected to dramatically reduce the amount of time taken to analyse and report on earthquakes globally.

The USGS co-operates with a number of countries to collate data from seismometers in order to determine earthquake epicentres. This information is useful in assessing possible damage, and is a key element in improving world-wide monitoring of seismic waves, tsunami.

The USGS is currently trialling a new seismic event processing system called HYDRA which identifies, locates and measures earthquakes. It is expected that HYDRA will be fully operational sometime during March this year.

These enhancements will increase our knowledge of seismic events in the South Pacific and in New Zealand territories. Whilst our Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences operates Geonet to monitor earthquake activity within New Zealand, it still has some shortcomings. Geonet’s seismometers provide good coverage for earthquakes occuring up to moderate depths within New Zealand, but the long, narrow nature of the country makes it difficult to accurately pinpoint deep earthquakes. The triangulation calculations require the use of more distant readings, and this is done by collaboration with USGS and other geological organisations. In return, data from New Zealand seismometers is made available for study by seismologists in other countries.

The NEIC has also revamped its website, meaning that many old links will no longer work. Earthquake reports have been enhanced, and page layouts have changed.

The NEIC can be reached via the link on this website.

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