Seismology Skill Building Workshop for Undergraduates

Due to the overwhelming response to this course, registrations will close at 11:59pm (Eastern) on Thursday May 28th.  The strong response also means we will not be able to accommodate graduate students who requested to particpate in this year's course.

While the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to the suspension of the 2020 Undergraduate Internship Program, IRIS remains committed to the developing the Next Generation of Seismologists. To this end, the IRIS Education and Outreach program is offering a FREE seismology skill building workshop for any undergraduate (e.g. computer science, geophysics, geology, math, physics, engineering) student seeking to build skills in working with seismic data and scientific computing. The workshop will run every other week from June 1, 2020 through August 28, 2020. The goals of this workshop are to increase students'...  

  • interest in taking additional course work in seismology and scientific computing,
  • self-efficacy in using seismic data, and 
  • competitiveness in the graduate school or summer REU application process.

Workshop Format

This workshop will be offered as a fully online course only. Each module has been designed to develop a particular set of skills relevant for seismological research. New modules will be assigned every other week throughout the summer.  Modules will be introduced on Mondays via a webinar held at 3pm Eastern. Participants will then work through each module at their own pace during the remainder on the week. Participants will be able to ask questions, provide feedback, and share their successes and challenges with other participants through a moderated learning platform. Supplemental materials such as relevant papers, webinars, and other resources will be made available for those who wish to extend their learning. Weekly modules will conclude with a with a follow-up webinar held on Fridays at 3pm.  All webinars will be recorded to allow participants from across a variety of time zones to participate.  

Minimum Requirements

  • Participation: This workshop is intended for undergraduate students (e.g.. computer science, geophysics, geology, math, physics, engineering). Unfortunately, due to an overwhelming response, we will not be able to admit graduate students into this year's course.  There are no-minimum course or experiential requirements in order for students of all backgrounds to participate. However, students who have completed at least one semester of math and physics will be best able to benefit from the course, and 2 semesters of each math and physics would be ideal.
  • Computer/Internet: To participate, students will need to have access to a PC/Mac where they can install a virtual disk that will be provided, and SLACK for communication. Chromebooks or tablets are unlikely to be sufficient. Since the course is online and will require downloading of data, reasonable internet access (DSL, LAN, or cable connection desirable) is expected.


As an optional final project, participants have been encouraged to create and submit a Jupyter Notebook to showcase their learning and skills! Participants should choose some seismic recordings or events from anywhere in the world, and then use the Notebook to request and process the data. The Notebook should annotate the process of how and why they chose the station(s) or event(s), along with what you found from the processing. Ideally, they would generate several plots in the Notebook to illustrate their findings and justify the conclusions they draw from them. Projects will be displayed after September 30th, 2020. 


This course is being offered as an online workshop only. Participants will be provided with login credentials to access the workshop materials once their registration has been processed. 

We anticipate that each module will require roughly 5 to 6 hours per week. This includes a Monday webinar held at 3pm ET to introduce the module, a follow-up webinar held on Fridays at 3pm ET, and the actual self-paced exercises. Note that all webinars will be recorded.    

(Subject to revision):

June 1 - Module 1:  Introduction to scientific computing and coding strategies.  Applications will include Linux command line, shell scripting, and basic plot generation with Generic Mapping Tools (GMT), and discussion of general patterns of earthquakes in space, time, and magnitude.

June 15 - Module 2: Seismic recording and seismograms.  Applications will include time series analysis, digitization, filtering, and Seismic Analysis Code (SAC).

June 29 - Module 3: Data access and IRIS Data Request Tools.  Applications will include web services, data availability tools, Wilbur, and fetch scripts.

July 13 - Module 4: Event and waveform databases.  Applications will include an introduction to database software, strategies for organizing data, available catalogs, and hypocentral location software.

July 22 - Special Webinar: From undergrad to PhD…the graduate school process!

July 27 - Module 5: Introduction into Python, how it works (calculate something via a loop), basic uses. Applications for seismology in ObsPy including reading a seismogram, retrieving data, seismogram plotting, correlation detector, nuclear test, induced seismicity.

August 10 - Module 6: Jupyter notebooks.  Applications will include an introduction to notebooks, calculating background seismic noise reductions due to COVID19, spectrograms, and sonify seismograms.

August 24 - Module 7: Wrap-up, review, and next steps for pursuing seismology.  

August 28 – Special Webinar: Careers and career paths. Alumni of the IRIS Undergraduate Internship Program share their career paths and answer participants questions about careers in geophysics/seismology and career preparation.

September 1-30 – Optional final project: Create a Notebook to request and process data of your choosing. Annotate the process of how and why you chose the station(s), along with what you found from the processing. Illustrate your findings and justify conclusions you draw from them. 


Expanded Module Descriptions

Module 5 - June 29 - July 5
By the end of the tutorial, students will be able to…

  • Describe metadata used to describe seismic data holdings including network, station code, channel, location, start date, and end date. 
  • Determine the availability of data from a line graph.
  • Summarizes the purpose for the IRIS Google Map Service (GMAP) tool
  • Summarize the purpose for the IRIS Web Service MUSTANG
  • Use the GMap and MUSTANG to determine the availability of data for a particular region of interest.  

Module 12 - August 17 - August 23

By the end of the tutorial, students will be able to…

  • Use knowledge of GITHUB to find and download software (e.g. Jupyter Notebook) to their personal computer.
  • Distinguish between markdown cells and code cells in jupyter notebooks.
  • Demonstrate how to abort the kernel in a Jupyter notebook. 
  • Edit existing code to create a new outputs
  • Interpret and summarize various plots of seismic noise (Power Spectral Density plots, Root Mean Square plots, Clock plots, Clock maps).
  • Describe human induced seismic noise including frequency bands, temporal variations, and common connections to culture. 
  • Use a “look up” approach to investigate new functions students encountered in novel Python code. 

The registration period for this workshop closed at Thu, May 28, 2020 - 11:59:00 PM.

The abstract submission period for this workshop closed at .

The whitepaper submission period for this workshop closed at .

The webinar registration period for this workshop closed at .

A list of attendees is not yet available.

The scholarship application period for this workshop closed at .

Important Dates
  • Registration:
    May 15th – 28th
  • Workshop dates:
    Jun 1st – Aug 28th
  • Workshop Location