Rapid Response to Geohazards


New and emerging seismograph technologies offer significant improvements for addressing challenging environments commonly associated with geohazards. In particular, recent technological developments have reduced the size, weight, and power of available systems, making them far easier to transport to the field, with attendant improvement in response time (days as opposed to weeks). Real-time telemetry, an emerging new capability for portable instruments, will be a game changer by allowing investigators to immediately assess ongoing activity, adapt their response while in the field, and provide more timely information to inform hazard monitoring and recovery efforts. However, implementing real-time telemetry will be challenging, given that these systems must work in a variety of different environments, be easily set up by non-experts, and be robust and operate within limited power budgets.

A rapid response capability is part of the existing seismic and geodetic facilities, but is underdeveloped relative to its potential. With the availability of new technology, we see an opportunity to address community aspirations while growing ties to the geohazards community. This frontier activity will include substantial collaboration with UNAVCO to explore integrated seismo-geodetic systems for rapid response studies. We envision a rapid response equipment pool that is kept readily available, is easy to ship and deploy, and is fully capable of collecting critical research-grade data (i.e., high-signal-to-noise, on-scale seismograms), as well as staff that can support these systems and assist with immediate training of PIs and deployment of the systems.


Figure 1: Earthquake-damaged infrastructure

Figure 2: Volcanic hazards

White Paper

IRIS has synthesized much of the input we've received into a community white paper, released in November 2020.  This document summarizes the current state of rapid response science, outlines observational needs and capabilities, and makes recommendations for use of existing procurement funds.

Click here to download a copy of the white paper.

Community Input

IRIS has gathered community input on what a rapid response cabability should look like through a variety of methods over the course of 2019 and 2020.  Below is a list of events that were held, along with links to download recordings and presentations.

  • Virtual SIG in lieu of the 2020 GAGE/SAGE workshop (Thursday, August 20 | Virtual)
    • Introduction/Overview slides ahead of breakout groups to review draft of white paper (Meltzer/Sweet/Anderson/Woodward)
  • Mini-workshop adjacent to 2019 SAGE/GAGE workshop (Tuesday, October 8 | Portland, OR)
    • Speaker Talks
      • Introduction (Bob Woodward) Download [6.3mb, ppt]
      • Case Studies
        • Volcanic Hazards (Ninfa Bennington) Download [28.4mb, key]
        • Induced Seismicity (Jenny Nakai) Download [94.5mb, ppt]
        • Large Earthquakes (Emily Wolin) [Please contact ewolin@usgs.gov for slides]
        • Cryosphere/Hydrosphere Hazards (Victor Tsai) Download [12.2mb, ppt]
      • Virtual Breakout Summaries
        • Volcanic Hazards (Wes Thelen) Download [19.4mb, ppt]
        • Large Earthquakes (Susan Beck) Download [38.5mb, ppt]
        • Induced Seismicity (Heather DeShon) Download [29.3mb, ppt]
        • Cryosphere/Hydrosphere Hazards (Victor Tsai) Download [20.8mb, ppt]
      • Capabilities and Project Timeline (Kent Anderson) Download [1.5mb, ppt]
  • IRIS online breakout sessions (Fall 2019 - Winter 2020 | Virtual)
    • Volcanic hazards
      Monday, September 23rd @ 4pm ET
      Host: Wes Thelen, USGS CVO
      Invited speakers: Diana Roman, Matt Haney, Jamie Farrell, Greg Waite
      Download video recording (123.1mb, .mp4, 100 minutes)

    • Induced Seismicity hazards
      Thursday, September 26th @ 3pm ET
      Host: Heather DeShon, SMU
      Invited speakers: Mike Brudzinski, Elizabeth Cochran, Stephen Veitch, Jake Walter
      Download video recording (186.3mb, .mp4, 92 minutes)

    • Large Earthquake hazards
      Wednesday, October 2nd @ 1pm ET
      Host: Susan Beck, Univ of Arizona
      Invited speakers: Steve Roecker, Yehuda Ben Zion, Marianne Karplus, Zhongwen Zhan
      Download video recording (150.7mb, .mp4, 73 minutes)

    • Hyrosphere/Cryosphere hazards
      Thursday, October 3rd @ 2pm ET
      Host: Victor Tsai, Brown
      Invited speakers: Bradley Lipovsky, Danica Roth, Toshiro Tanimoto
      Download video recording (123.1mb, .mp4, 68 minutes)

    • Geomagnetic hazards
      Friday, November 1st @ 3pm ET
      Host: Anna Kelbert, USGS, Geomagnetism Program
      Invited speakers: Christopher Balch, Jeffrey Love, Sean Murphy, Adam Schultz, Rui Sun, Emily Wolin
      Download video recording (287.1mb, .mp4, 105 minutes)

    • OBS response to marine hazards
      Tuesday, February 25th @ 2pm ET
      Host: Nathan Miller, USGS, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Sciences Center
      Invited speakers: Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, Jochen Braunmiller, Gabrielle Tepp, Rufus Catchings
      Download video recording (150mb, .mp4, 93 minutes)

Contact Us

If you have questions related to IRIS' rapid response to geohazards initiative, please email Bob Woodward, Kent Anderson, or Justin Sweet.

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