Australian Seismometers in Schools – eyes on seismology

Monday, 15 December 2014
Michelle Salmon, Natalie Balfour and Malcolm Sambridge, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
The Australian Seismometers in Schools (AuSIS) program has installed 42 research quality broadband seismometers in schools around Australia. The school’s infrastructure allows for real time data transfers, and eager young students monitor the instruments and report any recorded events. The reporting feature (“Caught it? Report it!”) through our website works as a crude type of detection to inform us of what instruments pick up the earthquakes. It also has the added benefits of keeping schools engaged in the program, ongoing learning about earth science and geography, and obviously keeps them returning to our website. A network of professional and amateur seismologists provides support to the schools and helps promote earth science education and earthquake risk awareness. The data is publically available through the IRIS DMC and is used by not just our volunteers but also by government departments, universities and private agencies for research and monitoring. One of the challenges has been to provide a way for schools and to interact with the real time data in an accessible format. We have achieved this through website and mobile app development alongside step-by step how to guides. These tools have the added advantage that they also allow schools without their own seismometer to connect with nearby schools that do. The government run national network of seismometers in Australia is sparse; the AuSIS program provides additional instruments that are now being incorporated into the national network for improved regional earthquake locations. Although schools are not the ideal site for broadband seismometers, the program has proven that with a well-chosen location within the school we can recover high quality data for much of the day. The schools are generally well distributed across the country enabling the program to supplement the national network at the same time as bringing earth science to rural communities that often miss out on this type of opportunity.