Teach the Earth > Geophysics > Visualizing Seismic Waves for Teaching and Research > Overview

Workshop Overview

A diagram of the Earth and seismic waves Details

Seismic waves provide powerful ways to probe the deep, hidden earth that allows interpretation of the architecture of Earth and processes past and present that have shaped the planet. Seismometers are our ears to Earth's activities, and they are used to monitor not only earthquakes but also a wide ranch of natural and man-made sources that include volcanoes, glaciers, landslides, storms, explosions, animal migrations, and urban noise. Visualizations of seismic waves, as represented by a variety of graphics, animations, simulations and Java Aplets, provide windows that lead to deeper understanding by learners at all levels. The purpose of this workshop is to draw together geoscientists who regularly use seismic waves in their teaching and research to build a comprehensive collection of visualizations and instructional activities that demonstrate how seismic waves can be used to interrogate and investigate the sounds of the Earth. Topics that will be addressed include: visualization of seismic waves as they propogate through Earth; working with seismograms to determine their characteristics such as arrival phases, amplitudes, and frequencies; working with seismogram data and related software packages such as QuakeCatcher, SeisMac, and APPS for the I-Phone.

Presenters include:

  • Feb. 2: Michael Wysession, Washington University; Dave Mogk, Montana State University
  • Feb. 9: Dave Wald, USGS; Charles J. Ammon, Penn State University; Bob Woodward, IRIS
  • Feb. 16: John Taber, IRIS; Glenn Kroeger, Trinity University; Michael Thorne, Univ Utah
  • Feb. 23: Jesse F. Lawrence, Stanford University; John Louie, Univ Nevada, Reno; Andrew Michael, USGS; Zhigang Peng, Georgia Tech

The format of the virtual part of the workshop will include a series of whole-group presentations and demonstrations using the Elluminate teleconferencing software, and we will also provide listservs and closed, web-based workspaces to help individuals and small groups to work on the development and review of instructional activities.

For each visualization in the collection, we would like to provide the contexts such as fundamental principles, worked examples, annotations, and tutorials as appropriate to help our non-expert users (other faculty and students) to be able to understand how seismic waves are used to investigate a variety of Earth topics.

Animations of the propagation of seismic waves across the 400+ stations of the Transportable Array of EarthScope are available for many major earthquakes at http://eqseis.geosc.psu.edu/~cammon/QA/ Details
Workshop Goals

The goals of this workshop are to:

  • Create a comprehensive collection of visualizations that demonstrate the principles of how seismic waves propagate through Earth and how derivative representations are appropriately interpreted;
  • Demonstrate cutting edge advances in seismologic research and how visualizations related to these research projects can be used in instructional activities;
  • Develop effective teaching practices using these visualizations, including the development of teaching activities that are appropriate for different instructional levels, and using current results of learning science that inform learning through the use of visualizations; and
  • Demonstrate the use of a variety of seismological software packages that produce visualizations and develop accompanying tutorials to encourage use of this software by students.

Example of a set of teleseismic seismograms showing the major phases recorded. The three components of the seismograms can be represented as either vertical, north, and east, or as vertical, radial, and transverse. Details

Who Should Attend?

  • Geoscience instructors who would like to incorporate modern principles and products of seismological research into their courses at all levels.
  • Geoscience faculty who are interested in learning how to use seismic modeling programs.
  • Data providers from seismic networks and Education and Outreach managers from seismic networks.
  • Post-docs and graduate students interested in pursuing careers in these areas (as space permits).


Virtual Workshop

The virtual workshop will be convened on Wednesdays (Feb 2, 9, 16, 23; March 30, April 6) for ~2 hours starting at noon Central Time Zone. These on-line sessions will include presentations and demonstrations from a series of invited speakers (TBA), and there will also be time set for on-line interactive sessions with the workshop participants to share ideas and approaches and to review and design teaching activities around selected seismic wave visualization methods.

Face-to-Face Workshop

The face-to-face half-day workshop will be held on the afternoon of Sunday, December 4, at the Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco. This will give participants an opportunity to meet in-person and discuss their experiences from the Fall semester, when they will have had a chance try out some of the ideas proposed during the online workshop.

The different frequency contents of seismic body and surface waves can be demonstrated by windowing the different portions of the seismogram and transforming them into the frequency domain. Details


Participants are expected to:

  • Prior to the workshop - become familiar with the instructional materials currently available in the existing Teaching Geophysics and Understanding Deep Earth modules; organize visualizations that you plan to share with the group and plan for the development of new visualizations; submit activities and course descriptions.
  • During the workshop - plan to participate in all sessions, including whole-group presentations and opportunities to work in small working groups to plan, design, develop, and review new teaching activities.
  • After the workshop - continue to help develop and review the instructional activities, and advertise the new resources to the larger community.


Registration for the workshop is $50. This will secure your place in the workshop and help offset costs of using the teleconferencing software. Pay your registration fee

For More Information

For further information, please contact:

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