Preliminary Study of Methods for Upgrading USGS Antarctic Seismological Capability

Open-File Report 82-292




Purpose The purpose of this study is to evaluate potential methods for obtaining higher quality seismic data from Antarctica. Currently, USGS-sponsored WWSSN stations are located at Scott Base, Sanae Base, and at South Pole Station. Scott and Sanae Stations are located near the coast; data obtained from coastal installations are normally degraded by noise generated by ocean wave action on the coast. Operations at South Pole are rather difficult because of the severe environmental characteristics and the extended logistics which are required to provide supplies and operating personnel to its remote location. Short-period data quality from Pole Station has been moderately high with a short-period magnification of 100K at 1Hz. Long-period magnifications have been rather low (<1K @ 15 s period). Recent relocation of the seismic recording facilities at South Pole Station as a result of the construction of a completely new station facility has caused serious degradation of the data quality due to faulty installation techniques. Repairs have been implemented to remedy these deficiencies and to regain the data quality which existed before the move to new facilities. However, the technology being used at South Pole Station is of WWSSN vintage; as a result it is about 20 years old. Much has been learned about achieving higher magnifications since the WWSSN was designed. This study will evaluate the feasibility of applying recent technological advances to Antarctic seismology. Seismological data from the Antarctic Continent is important to the world's seismological community because of the Antarctic's unique geographic position on the globe. Land masses are scarce in that part of the world; the Antarctic sits right in the middle of the void. Therefore, its data are important for completing the data set for the southern hemisphere. Upgrading the USGS seismic capability in the Antarctic should also prove to be a wise investment from another point of view. Although the initial costs of the Antarctic upgrade program would be high, and the cost of routine maintenance and support would be greater than in other parts of the world, the ease of upgrading is aided by the unique nonpolitical aspect of the continent. In addition, the danger of losing our investment due to political unrest or change is almost zero. In the past, political complications have severely impacted operations at several SRO stations. Therefore, an effort to improve data quality from the Antarctic would be a prudent long-term investment.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Preliminary Study of Methods for Upgrading USGS Antarctic Seismological Capability
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory
43 p.