Towards a Global School Seismic Network

Towards a Global School Seismic Network Data from the M8.8 Chile earthquake was recorded by schools right across the world. Seismograms recorded by schools in the UK (top), Ireland (middle) and the US (bottom).
Scientists often work in a virtual global laboratory, collaborating with partners in countries overseas who they might never meet. Seismologists have been doing this for over a century ever since John Milne set up the first global seismic network from his garden shed in Shide on the Isle of Wight in 1910. He used the irregular mail-ships of the day to exchange seismograms with far flung outposts. Today school students and teachers in high schools across the world can experience what it is like to do science on a global scale and use the internet to exchange data in near real time with colleagues on any continent. Schools are using very simple mechanical seismometers in their own classrooms coupled to simple digitisers and PC’s used for datalogging to detect and analyse seismic signals from across the world.
</p><p>In 2009 the school seismology projects of the UK, Ireland and the USA merged their online databases to create a seamless and integrated environment where teachers from any country can automatically view and download data files submitted by teachers in any other country. UK and Ireland schools are using a simple horizontal pendulum seismometer which shows up S and sur- face waves well. US schools use a vertical sensor with a Lacoste type suspension which gives a stronger P wave signal.
</p><p>The devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile during early 2010 highlighted the effectiveness of global monitoring in schools, and within days of the M8.8 event in Chile 45 schools had posted their seismograms online for all to see. In 2010 and beyond we are working hard to try and widen the reach of the global school seismology network and support seismologists in Africa and elsewhere to set up their own local school seismology networks.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Matt Toigo from IRIS and Tom Blake from DIAS for their assistance with linking our projects together. See project websites at,, and</p>


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