Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Earth Sciences Faculty News

The Big Data Revolution Unlocks New Opportunities for Seismology


The field of seismology is entering a new era where our understanding of earthquakes and the solid earth is increasingly driven by new Big Data experiments and algorithms.

By: Stephen J. Arrowsmith, Daniel T. Trugman, Karianne Bergen and Beatrice Magnani

Scientists have been measuring earthquakes for hundreds of years. As instruments have advanced, so has our understanding of how and why the ground moves. A recent article published in Reviews of Geophysics describes how the Big Data revolution is now advancing the field of seismology. We asked some of the authors to explain how seismic waves are measured, how measurement techniques have changed over time, and how big data is being collected and used to advance science.

In simple terms, what is seismology and why is it important?

Seismology is a science that is based on vibrational waves (‘seismic waves’) that travel through the Earth. Seismic waves produce ground motions that are recorded by seismometers. Recorded ground motions can provide vital clues both about the sources of waves (e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, explosions, etc.) and about the properties of the Earth the waves travel through. Seismology provides tools for understanding the physics of earthquakes, for monitoring natural hazards, and for revealing the internal structure of the Earth. READ MORE