Science and Program Highlights Archive

2021 Apr 8th

A brief history of the very first broadband seismic station

The advent of a seismometer that could measure a broad range of frequencies changed seismology forever. This is the origin story of that instrument. Continue Reading

2021 Mar 17th

Scientists Plumb the Depths of the World’s Tallest Geyser

University of Utah researchers developed an image of the subsurface below Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser to learn more about its plumbing structure and what controls a geyser from erupting regularly, like Old Faithful, versus irregularly, like Steamboat. Continue Reading

2021 Mar 2nd

The mystery of the missing plume head

Did the Hawaiian-Emperor plume record plate motion or change it? New research provides a snapshot of a subducted oceanic plateau that can help scientists disentangling the geography of the geologic past. Continue Reading

2021 Feb 4th

Former Piece of Pacific Ocean Floor Imaged Deep Beneath China

An international team, including a seismologist from Rice University, published a study that offers new evidence about what happens to water-rich oceanic tectonic plates as they are drawn through Earth’s mantle beneath continents. Continue Reading

2021 Jan 25th

EarthScope watches the sky

High-latitude seismometers typically tasked with peering inside the earth can also record electromagnetic undulations in the sky. Continue Reading

2021 Jan 11th

Piecing together Alaska

This exciting work simultaneously takes a snapshot of the basins, volcanic systems, and tectonic plates all interacting miles beneath the surface of Alaska. Continue Reading

2020 Dec 11th

Undersea Earthquakes Shake Up Climate Science

Researchers at Caltech have discovered that seismic rumblings on the seafloor can provide another tool for monitoring the temperature of ocean waters. Continue Reading

2020 Dec 11th

Far-flung shakes trigger small quakes

When large earthquakes of M7.0 or greater strike anywhere from tens to thousands of miles away, seismic stations around Coso often record an uptick of tinier temblors. To explore possible mechanisms for how large faraway earthquakes can trigger small ones near Coso, researchers examined 13 years of seismic data.  Continue Reading

2020 Dec 3rd

IRIS Data Services Winter Newsletter

Find out what's happening at the IRIS DMC in the Winter Newsletter! Continue Reading

2020 Oct 26th

Scientists Detect Unexpected Widespread Structures Near Earth’s Core

University of Maryland geophysicists analyzed thousands of recordings of seismic waves to identify echoes from the boundary between Earth’s molten core and the solid mantle layer above it.  Continue Reading

2020 Oct 21st

Under pressure: wringing signals from horizontal sensors

Atmospheric pressure and tilt related noise hamper seismic investigations; a new study works towards solving these problems. Continue Reading

2020 Sep 29th

Exploring icy worlds using seismology

This research team uses Gulkana Glacier in Alaska as a proxy for icy Europa in order to test seismic equipment and deployment strategies with an eye towards one day putting seismometers on Jupiter's smallest Galilean moon! Continue Reading

2020 Sep 15th

Seeing seismic swarms

In January of 2014 a small seismic swarm rattled Virginia City for approximately 10 days. Swarm-like activity can cause concern because swarms can evolve over time, resulting in damaging ground motions.  Continue Reading

2020 Sep 8th

Mozambique experiences damaging rift-related earthquakes

Central Mozambique has experienced several damaging earthquakes in the last few decades, including a M5.6 event on December 22, 2018, near the Zimbabwe border. Seismic stations from around the world helped to clarify the characteristics of this earthquake. Continue Reading

2020 Aug 17th

World Series of Earthquakes

IRIS's World Series addresses regional tectonic forces and resulting recent and historic earthquakes around the world (ex. Japan, Alaska, Peru-Chile, Central America, Mexico, Pacific Northwest).  Continue Reading

2020 Jul 9th

Researchers Develop New Explanation for Destructive Earthquake Vibrations

Brown University researchers propose that rocks colliding inside a fault zone as an earthquake happens are the main generators of high-frequency vibrations. Continue Reading

2020 Jun 12th

IRIS Statement on Racism in Geoscience

We at IRIS join our colleagues from across the country and around the globe in unequivocally denouncing racism. BLACK LIVES MATTER. We also know that racism is persistent in STEM and that there are systemic inequalities in academia and particularly in the geosciences. Continue Reading

2020 Jun 5th

Tearing an arc apart—insights from the northern Taupo Volcanic Zone

Researchers used seismic waves in the Bay of Plenty to create detailed images of the crust and mantle spanning the underwater northern section of the Taupo Volcanic Zone. By peering into the subsurface, they found evidence of a positive feedback relationship between magmatic intrusion and crustal extension.  Continue Reading

2020 May 19th

Peeking at the Plumbing of One of the Aleutian’s Most Active Volcanoes

A new approach to analyzing earthquake data revealed an impressive level of detail in the deep plumbing system underlying Alaska’s Cleveland volcano. Continue Reading

2020 May 18th

Distant quakes trigger undersea landslides in Gulf of Mexico

Massive submarine landslides are often shaken loose if a large earthquake strikes nearby. However, triggers for smaller landslides are poorly understood. In a recent paper Dr. Wenyuan Fan and his colleagues, discovered 85 previously unknown submarine landslides in the Gulf of Mexico by analyzing 8 years of seismic data and extracting characteristic seismic signals of continental slope careening downhill.  Continue Reading

2020 Apr 15th

Exploring the complexities of the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence

On July 4th, Ridgecrest, California, was rattled by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake. 34 hours later, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake ruptured approximately 10 kilometers away from the initial shock. Learn how this complex earthquake sequence is changing our understanding of how faults work. Continue Reading

2020 Apr 2nd

Reduction in seismic noise because of changes in human activity

Researchers who study Earth’s movement are seeing a drop in seismic noise as a result of transport networks and other human activities being shut down.  Continue Reading

2020 Mar 26th

Monitoring groundwater with a single seismometer

New research shows that a single seismometer can track yearly changes in groundwater level, which may be helpful for aquifers around the world that lack monitoring wells. Continue Reading

2020 Mar 2nd

Seismometers detect small icebergs produced by Greenland’s glaciers

The iceberg-calving process is a key mechanism by which large volumes of ice are lost from Greenland glaciers, yet many details of this process were previously unknown. Now, scientists can learn more about glacial calving using seismic data from the Greenland Ice Sheet Monitoring Network (GLISN). Continue Reading

2020 Feb 3rd

How does a tectonic plate die?

Armed with information from seismic arrays, scientists explore the question of how oceanic tectonic plates "die". Continue Reading

2020 Jan 27th

Early seismic waves hold the clue to the power of the main temblor

A team of researchers at Harvard University used data products and created numerical models to predict an earthquake’s final magnitude 10 to 15 seconds faster than today’s best algorithms. Continue Reading

2020 Jan 6th

Rainy days make glaciers move and shake

It is the growth of cavities at the ice-rock interface that is driving crevasse growth at the glacier’s surface. Lagging behind the zone of cavitation is an increase in seismicity characteristic of crevasse growth—icequakes.  Continue Reading

2019 Nov 26th

How thick is the lithosphere under the southeastern US?

In previous seismic studies, researchers interpreted pockets of relatively slow seismic velocities in the eastern US as evidence for thin, broken-up lithosphere. But, magnetotelluric imaging supports a thick, coherent lithospheric block. Murphy and Egbert (2019) reconcile these seemingly contradictory datasets. Continue Reading

2019 Nov 4th

Final Report on the Ocean Bottom Seismograph Instrument Pool Facility

The final report for the National Science Foundation funded Ocean Bottom Instrument Pool (OBSIP) facility is now available.  Continue Reading

2019 Oct 15th


New research presents evidence that strong storms produce seismic surface waves that are distinct and measurable. The name for these newly discovered geophysical phenomenon? Stormquakes. Continue Reading

2019 Sep 16th

Bears vs. Seismic Stations

Many animals encounter sites where seismic equipment has been installed but most animals leave these sites alone after a cursory glance or sniff. In contrast, bears appear to be enticed to visit station sites and investigate the seismic equipment, sometimes causing significant damage. What's a seismologist to do? Continue Reading

2019 Sep 5th

‘Suture Zone’ to Blame for Mysterious 2014 Earthquake Felt Across Florida

University of South Florida seismologists have uncovered the unexpected source of a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that occurred in 2014 along the northern coast of Cuba. Continue Reading

2019 Aug 1st

Aftershocks of 1959 Earthquake Rocked Yellowstone in 2017-2018

A swarm of more than 3,000 small earthquakes that occurred between June 2017 and March 2018 in the Maple Creek area of Yellowstone National Park are, at least in part, aftershocks of the 1959 quake. Continue Reading

2019 Jul 23rd

Tracking Typhoons

In the western Pacific Ocean, massive tropical cyclones (called typhoons) occur throughout the year. Retailleau and Gualtieri (2019) show that seismology can be used to track and measure tropical cyclones as they churn through the ocean because they create “secondary microseisms.” Continue Reading

2019 Jul 11th

A tale of time and magnitude

Can seismologists determine the size of an earthquake before the earthquake is over? Continue Reading

2019 Jul 5th

The hum of the earth

Hidden amidst the tumult of seismic data generated by earthquakes, explosions and other earth-shacking phenomena is a quiet hum. Discovered relatively recently, this hum is Earth’s background noise, and it originates within the oceans.  Continue Reading

2019 Jul 3rd

Indonesia’s Devastating 2018 Earthquake was a Rare ‘Supershear’

According to UCLA researchers, a study using high-resolution observations of the seismic waves caused by the temblor, along with satellite radar and optical images, found that the earthquake propagated unusually fast. Continue Reading

2019 Jun 26th

Where are the IRIS Interns Now?

A survey finds that most IRIS intern alumni are employed in the geosciences, but across a variety of employment sectors. Continue Reading

2019 Jun 3rd

Scientists Identify Almost 2 Million Previously “Hidden” Earthquakes

Using powerful computers and a technique called template matching, scientists at Caltech have identified millions of previously unidentified tiny earthquakes. A closer look at seismic data from 2008–2017 expands Southern California's earthquake catalog by a factor of 10. Continue Reading

2019 May 29th

Deep earthquakes in the depths of the ocean

Beneath the sparkling blue seas in the southern Pacific Ocean lies the mysterious underworld of the Tonga Trench – the second deepest place on Earth. The Tonga Trench is over 10 km deep and is home to +65% of the world’s deepest earthquakes. In 2018, two of the largest deep earthquakes ever recorded in this part of the Pacific occurred within days of one another. But why? Continue Reading

2019 May 14th

Noisy wind – A tale of tilting seismometers

Important work by former IRIS Intern Sydney Dybing and others show that noise, whatever the cause, provides the lower limit of resolution for a given seismometer, and that limit is dependent on depth, substrate and installation style Continue Reading

2019 May 1st

Massive 1994 Bolivian Earthquake Reveals Mountains 660 Kilometers Below our Feet

Princeton geophysicists, in collaboration with colleagues in China, used data from an enormous earthquake in Bolivia to find mountains and other topography on the base of the transition zone that separates the upper and lower mantle. Continue Reading

2019 Mar 28th

Injection Wells Can Induce Earthquakes Miles Away from the Well

A study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz finds that injecting fluid into sedimentary rock can produce bigger, more distant earthquakes than injecting into the underlying basement rock. Continue Reading

2019 Mar 13th

Seismology on Ice!

Follow the adventures of Dr. Bob Woodward, the Director of IRIS Instrumentation Services, as he travels to Antarctica to do "Seismology on Ice"! Continue Reading

2019 Mar 13th

Investigating “man-made quakes” in Western Canada

In the US, most induced earthquakes are the result of wastewater injection, whereas in western Canada, induced earthquakes are more closely correlated with hydraulic fracturing operations. Why do some areas experience induced earthquakes while others remain seismically inactive?  Continue Reading

2019 Mar 1st

Seismic Study Reveals Huge Amount of Water Dragged into Earth’s Interior

Slow-motion collisions of tectonic plates under the ocean drag about three times more water down into the deep Earth than previously estimated, according to a first-of-its-kind seismic study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. Continue Reading

2019 Feb 20th

Reflections on the Accomplishments of EarthScope’s USArray

The USArray has operated for over 15 years as a community science facility designed to address EarthScope’s goal of understanding the structure and evolution of the North American continent. Continue Reading

2019 Feb 5th

A subduction zone in pieces: the segmented Cascadia megathrust

Onshore and offshore seismic data informs researchers working on megathrust boundaries, improving our understanding of where subduction zone earthquakes might occur and why. Continue Reading

2019 Feb 1st

IRIS PASSCAL to Expand Pool of Seismic Instruments

IRIS has begun the procurement of 460 Fairfield nodes for general PASSCAL pool use. The new nodes should be ready for general usage starting in February 2019 (bringing the general node pool to 533 units).  Continue Reading

2019 Jan 22nd

Tiny Northwest Quakes Tied to Deep-Crust Structure

Rice University researchers found a strong correlation exists between tremor density and underthrusting sediments at the Cascadia margin off the Pacific Northwest’s coast. Fluids that are released from the downgoing slab are concentrated in these sediments and lead to very slow seismic velocities in the region. Continue Reading

2019 Jan 8th

Quaking beneath the ice

The geology of East Antarctica lies hidden below many kilometers of ice, and presents a fascinating and complex problem for geologists. Historically, very few earthquakes have been recorded in Antarctica but data from a new seismic array has allowed scientists to detect earthquakes below the ice, and their results directly contradict the notion that Antarctica is seismically and tectonically inactive.  Continue Reading

2018 Dec 20th

Test, Collapse, Swarm

In 2017, the government of the North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb. In the following days, several additional seismic events were recorded. Using seismic data from the IRIS DMC and other networks, researchers were able to determine locations and probable causes for these seismic events.  Continue Reading

2018 Oct 24th

Antarctic Ice Shelf ‘Sings’

According to research led by Colorado State University, winds blowing across snow dunes on Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf cause the massive ice slab’s surface to vibrate, producing a near-constant set of seismic tones that could potentially be used to monitor changes in the ice shelf. Continue Reading

2018 Oct 22nd

Regional geoelectric hazard assessment

Geomagnetic storms can wreck havoc on the world’s electrical grids, communications systems, and navigational infrastructure. To prepare for future geomagnetic storms, scientists need to know more about Earth's geoelectric field and how it varies during storm events.  Continue Reading

2018 Sep 25th

IRIS Station Monitor App now available!

Explore earthquakes near you or around the world using the new IRIS Station Monitor app! Available for both Android and iPhone! Continue Reading

2018 Sep 12th

USArray in the news!

USArray Transportable Array science featured in exciting Accuweather video special feature! Continue Reading

2018 Sep 12th

Yellowstone Super-Volcano Eruptions were Produced by Gigantic Ancient Oceanic Plate

Scientists have long thought that Yellowstone Caldera is powered by heat from the Earth’s core. New research by Virginia Tech seismologist Ying Zhou suggests that Yellowstone volcanoes were produced by a gigantic ancient oceanic plate that dove under the Western United States about 30 million years ago. Continue Reading

2018 Sep 12th

Seismicity beneath Kīlauea ‘s Southwest Rift Zone

Researchers are examining seismic activity within Kīlauea ‘s rift zones to understand the connection between the caldera and the rift zones to provide a better framework for interpreting seismicity around the volcano.  Continue Reading

2018 Sep 7th

Untangling the subduction history of western North America

Subducted lithosphere can be imaged below our feet using a technique called seismic tomography. By combining this subsurface imaging method with surface geology scientists can learn about the timing and extent of oceanic subduction and how and when continents collided. Continue Reading

2018 Aug 3rd

GSN seismic station recorded the sounds of Hurricane Maria

Newly installed infrasound sensors at a GSN station on Puerto Rico recorded the passage of Hurricane Maria.  Continue Reading

2018 Jul 25th

Seismometer Readings Could Offer Debris Flow Early Warning

Researchers at Caltech investigate whether seismometers in the field could be used to provide an early warning of an incoming debris flow to residents in mudslide-prone areas. Continue Reading

2018 Jul 5th

IRIS Internship Program 20th anniversary!

The IRIS Internship Program celebrates 20 years of success! Continue Reading

2018 Jun 4th

Scientists Find Pre-Earthquake Activity in Central Alaska

Researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute found evidence for accelerating activity before a 2016 earthquake in a laterally moving fault zone in central Alaska. The activity included a phenomenon known as very low-frequency earthquakes. Continue Reading

2018 May 21st

Take a Peek at a Day in the Life of an IRIS Seismologist

IRIS Seismologist Kasey Aderhold shares the excitement of her work to discover more about earthquakes, including field work in Alaska. Continue Reading

2018 May 5th

IRIS Joins NASA to Engage the Public about the Mars InSight Mission

IRIS Seismology Education & Outreach Specialist Tammy Bravo (third from right) poses with the NASA Mars InSight Team prior to the launch. Continue Reading

2018 Apr 17th

Highlights from the Field

Students from UNR conduct geophysical research on a former nuclear test site using 30 Texans with 4.5 Hz vertical geophones from the PASSCAL Instrument Center. Using this equipment the class recorded two deep refraction microtremor arrays 2 km long, centered across ground zero. Continue Reading

2018 Feb 27th

Register for the 2018 IRIS Workshop!

2018 IRIS Workshop: Foundations, Frontiers, and Future Facilities for Seismology Continue Reading

2018 Feb 15th

IRIS Animations, Webinars and Videos

IRIS has more than 200 animations, webinars and videos to provide information and background on Earth science fundamentals from plate tectonics to seismic wave propagation. Continue Reading

2018 Jan 19th

Seismic Reawakening along the South-Central Chile Megathrust Boundary

Using GPS to examine regional changes in the earth’s surface with time, and seismology to understand the rupture process and stress changes associated with nearby earthquakes, researchers are seeking to understand the “reawakening” of the megathrust boundary along the west coast of Chile. Continue Reading

2017 Oct 4th

EarthScope’s Transportable Array Spans Alaska, the Last Frontier

After covering the lower 48 United States from coast to coast with a grid of nearly 1700 sites, the final seismic station of the EarthScope Transportable Array has been installed in Alaska! Continue Reading

2017 Sep 27th

IRIS Special Event Pages

IRIS Special Event web pages provide links to data products and images of data and materials available from IRIS programs and preliminary research results from the seismology community.  Continue Reading

2017 Aug 21st

By road, boat, plane and helicopter: Creating a remote seismic measurement network

The Southern Alaska Lithosphere and Mantle Observation Network (SALMON) is a two-year EarthScope FlexArray project. Using data recorded by 28 of PASSCAL’s broadband seismometers, the goal is to produce images of the crust and upper mantle to better understand active faulting, mantle flow and seismic structure in the Cook Inlet region. Continue Reading

2017 Aug 14th

My Experience as an IRIS Alaska Transportable Array Intern

Follow IRIS intern Amin Abbasi through his adventures installing Transportable Array seismometers in Alaska! Continue Reading

2017 Jul 11th

Detecting wind using seismometers

This research team is using seismometers to detect winds (both sustained winds and gusts) across a range of geographical settings. Continue Reading

2017 Jun 13th

Increased seismic instrumentation provides insight into the Rio Grande Rift

New seismic stations help answer questions about the extent, deformation pattern and seismic activity of the Rio Grande Rift. Continue Reading

2017 Jun 1st

Earthquakes and volcanoes of the Galápagos Islands

A temporary network of seismometers gives insight into earthquake activity and volcanic structure beneath the Galápagos Islands volcanoes. Continue Reading

2017 Mar 31st

Linking Faults in Napa Valley and Beyond

Seismic data and gravity data suggest linkages between the West Napa Fault Zone and nearby faults, which has implications for the size of potential earthquakes along this system. Additionally, guided seismic wave amplification can cause concentrated regions of shaking and damage. Continue Reading

2017 Mar 23rd

The Alaska Transportable Array Team: Achieving Success in Challenging Environments

Alaska’s TA stations offer a rare opportunity to collect information from remote regions. ​(Photo credit: Maria Sanders) Continue Reading

2017 Mar 7th

Induced Earthquake Mitigation

This study is an example of how communication, collaboration and cooperation between scientists, industry professionals and regulators can help to mitigate induced earthquakes. Continue Reading

2016 Dec 9th

IRIS Research Experiences for Undergraduates

IRIS summer interns complete their 19th year of conducting research under the guidance of IRIS Consortium members. Continue Reading

2016 Dec 9th

Multiple Magma Reservoirs Beneath Mount St. Helens?

Ground motion recordings from regional earthquakes and artificial sources at ~6000 individual seismograph locations have been utilized to image the volcanic plumbing system beneath Mt. St. Helens. Continue Reading

2016 Dec 9th

Data from Community Wave-field Demonstration Experiment Now Available

IRIS is pleased to announce that the data collected during the Community Wavefields Demonstration Experiment are now fully archived and available at the IRIS Data Management Center. Continue Reading

2016 Nov 30th

New GSN Affiliate Station Begins Operations in Tajikistan

The IRIS GSN recently installed a new Global Seismographic Network affiliate station in Simiganch, Tajikistan. The installation and its ongoing operation are part of a new agreement between IRIS and the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan. Continue Reading

2015 Oct 14th

IRIS and its Partners Conduct Seismic Data Workshop in Vietnam

Seismologists and seismic network operators from 19 Asian countries recently participated in a week-long training course on the management of data from seismic networks. Continue Reading

2015 Jun 8th

2015 Field Activities Start in Alaska and Northwestern Canada

Earlier this spring, the Transportable Array team headed to the field to begin this year’s deployment in Alaska and Northwestern Canada. Continue Reading

2014 Jul 24th

USArray Stories from the Field

Read essays about the experiences of USArray field crews, student siters, and others Continue Reading

2014 Jul 10th

Seismology and Imaging Beneath Alaska: EarthScope’s Final Frontier

From late 2013 through 2018, the USArray Transportable Array will site, deploy, and operate seismograph stations throughout Alaska to image its deep geologic structure.  Continue Reading

2014 Feb 20th

OBSIP: Supporting the Cascadia Initiative and Improving Ocean Bottom Seismograph Data Quality

Final deployment of Cascadia instruments, July 2014.  Continue Reading

2013 Apr 15th

PULSE and CAUGHT: Seismology in the High Andes

Two complementary research projects are examining the processes of ocean-continent subduction and mountain building in the Central Andes of Peru and Bolivia. Continue Reading

2013 Apr 15th

The Southeastern Suture of the Appalachian Margin Experiment (SESAME)

The SESAME project aims to better understand the effects of continental collision and rifting in the southern Appalachians. Continue Reading

2013 Apr 15th

GLISN: International Team Investigates the Greenland Ice Sheet

The Greenland Ice Sheet Monitoring Network is an 11-nation collaboration initiated by IRIS to establish a new northern observatory for monitoring this rapidly changing ice sheet. Continue Reading

2013 Apr 14th

Waves Generated by Russian Meteor Detected in the US

An extensive network of stations with seismometers and air pressure sensors detected the blast waves from the terminal burst of the meteoroid near Chelyabinsk as the waves crossed the US on 2/15/13. Continue Reading

2012 Oct 29th

IDOR – Studying 100 Million Years of Mountain Building and Volcanism in Idaho and Oregon

The IDOR controlled-source field crew, who collected data across the mountain ranges and volcanic fields of Idaho and Oregon, was one of the largest and most diverse teams assembled for an IRIS-facilitated experiment. Continue Reading