Browser-based visualization tool for seismic records

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Janine Birnbaum, Columbia University in the City of New York
Christopher Carchedi, Columbia University in the City of New York
Michelle Lee, Columbia University in the City of New York


We will show an example visualization from the tool and provide information on how to access the tool.

Instructions and materials for this resource are available at


We present a visualization tool for publicly available seismic data. Seismic data is freely available online from global and regional seismic networks, but access and visualization often require specialist knowledge in seismology and computer programming. Our open-sourced program RecRead utilizes the Python packages Bokeh and ObsPy to present a browser-based graphical user interface (GUI) that can be run locally or on free online computing resources (Binder). This tool simplifies the process of selecting seismic records of an event, such as an earthquake, and allows for a variety of aesthetic visualization options appropriate for in-class demonstrations or labs where students can manipulate the data without the need for additional coding. The tool includes additional visualization for regional seismicity, allowing students to contextualize seismic events with concepts in plate tectonics.


The activity was developed for a graduate student seminar that includes seismologists and non-seismologists who work in pairs to give presentations on a notable recent earthquake. This tool simplified the process of downloading, visualizing, and manipulating seismic data during the presentation, including dynamically changing visualization in response to audience questions.

Why It Works

The ease of use and large variety of data download and visualization options make the software adaptable to many possible teaching objectives from the K-12 through graduate levels.