• Return to MSOP Introduction / 1979 Edition Table of Contents

  • Preface


    1 The origin of this manual

    1.1 The First Edition

    The Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice arose from a resolution of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which was laid before the Committee for the Standardisation of Seismographs and Seismograms of the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior. This Committee met at Unesco House in Paris from March 12 to 15, 1963, and specified the general requirements of the Manual as follows:

    1. It would act as a guide for governments in setting up or running seismological networks. It would therefore include a selection of designs for recording stations, and suggestions for staffing and organisation both at the recording points and at a central office.
    2. It would contain all necessary information on instrumentation and procedure, to enable the station to fulfil normal international and local functions.
    3. It would not contain any extensive account of the aims or methods of utilising the seismic data, as these were in the province of existing textbooks.
    Responsibility for the sections of the work was assigned as follows:
    General editor:
    P. L. Willmore
    Site requirements, background noise measurement and bedrock characteristics:
    V. Karnik
    Vault plans and network organisation:
    P. L. Willmore
    Instruments–choice, adjustment and calibration:
    S. K. Chakrabarty
    G. Grenet
    Mme Y. Labrouste
    J. T. Wilson
    Operating procedure:
    J. H. Hodgson
    R. Teisseyre
    V. Karnik
    H. Honda
    Mme Y. Labrouste

    Drs Chakrabarty and Hodgson agreed to act as Subeditors for Instruments and Procedure respectively, and to submit drafts to the General Editor as soon as possible. The General Editor would assemble all the copy, and distribute it to the Committee members. The progress of the work was discussed further at the Berkeley meeting of the UGGI. At a later stage, Dr N. V. Kondorskaya (USSR) agreed to participate with special emphasis on Soviet practice, and Dr S. Gibowicz (Poland) gave assistance in Edinburgh.

    As the work progressed, it became clear that rapid developments of technique and organisation were necessitating continual revision of the text. Considerable sections were rewritten in the course of preparation, and were merged with new material contributed by members of the Committee or collected by the General Editor from other sources.

    In 1968 Mme Labrouste and a group of Soviet specialists headed by Dr Kondorskaya (Z. I. Aranovich, M. A. Vvedenskaya, V. I. Khalturin, N. V. Shebalin) sent additional comments to the first version. These suggestions contributed to the balance of the text of the Manual in so far as the experience of different national services are concerned. The final stages in the preparation of the manuscript were carried through by the attachment of Dr Karnik in October-December 1968. At that stage, several comments to the section on instruments were submitted by Dr V. Tobyas (Czechoslovakia).

    This edition was published in 1970 by the International Seismological Centre, with the financial assistance of Unesco.

    1.2 The French Translation, And Its Aftermath

    In 1971, the first edition was translated into French by Mme Labrouste, who introduced numerous improvements in detail within the original framework of chapters and subheadings. For several years, the French edition was the only one in print, but the continuing interest of the Seismological Community was reflected in a sustained demand for copies, and by suggestions and contributions of new material for a second edition. This situation was considered by the Commission on Practice of the IASPEI, and the final decision to proceed was taken at the Sixteenth General Assembly of the IASPEI in Grenoble in August 1975.

    1.3 The Second English Edition

    By the time of the Grenoble Assembly, the volume of new material was sufficient to require substantial recasting, although the succession of chapters and many of the principal subheadings continued to reflect the original structure. The contributions had been sent in by scientists of many countries, and sometimes fell more naturally into place when divided between several chapters of the original Manual. This produced considerable problems of continuity and style. Moreover, it was considered desirable to make a conscious effort to ensure a balance of representation between the major Eastern and Western areas of practice when putting together the critical chapters.

    The procedure adopted was to draw up a list of the contributors of new material and to expand this list by introducing additional colleagues with known expertise in particular aspects of practice. The expanded list provided the membership for a small working group to cover each of the chapters which required substantial modification. The full list, and the chapters with which each member was associated, is given below:

    * Convener of indicated section.

    The material was made up in Britain through the good offices of the Editorial and Publication Unit (Dr T. J. Dhonau) of the Institute of Geological Sciences, and with financial support of the Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom. The very complex typesetting was carried out most efficiently by Frowde and Company (Printers) Limited of Camberwell, London. The Manual was published by World Data Centre A (Director, Mr J. F. Lander) with the financial support of the United States Government.

    Our thanks are also due to all the agencies that, through their support of our contributors, have made it possible to generate the very considerable content of the present Manual.

    Finally, we must recognise the contribution of all the other agencies and individuals whose material appears in appropriate areas of the text.

    2 The Nature of the Manual

    2.1 Content

    This is a manual of seismological observatory practice, in which the basic duties of the observatory are envisaged as follows:

    1. To maintain equipment in continuous operation, with instruments calibrated and adjusted to conform with agreed standards.
    2. To produce records which conform with necessary standards for internal use and international exchange.
    3. To undertake preliminary readings needed to meet the immediate requirements of data reporting.

    The opening chapters are intended for the guidance of a potential network authority, and are concerned with the problems of building and equipping various types of station. Later sections deal with operation, and are intended to lead to the production of original records and of numerical readings of the highest possible quality and degree of standardisation.

    The extension of record reading to the level of final interpretation is regarded as an optional activity for a single observatory (although normal routine for a national or regional headquarters), and for this purpose the book provides introductory background material in the chapter entitled 'Record content'.

    The task of collecting and classifying macroseismic observations is also one which any seismologist may, on occasion, be called upon to undertake, and which therefore has a chapter to itself.

    In the choice of symbols, we have used nomenclature which is representative of as many publications in each field as possible. In so far as some overlap of usage from one chapter to another has seemed inevitable, three chapters are preceded by lists of symbols with a brief explanation of their use.

    In all, we have sought to extract the most general principles from a wide range of world practice, and to outline a course of action which will be consistent with those principles. Descriptions of practice in some of the larger networks (often very detailed in relation to specific types of instrumentation) will be found amongst the References.

    2.2 Arrangement

    In the course of assembling material, it soon became evident that there were significant regional differences in practice which are inhibiting the exchange of data between seismologists. It is also clear that the subject as a whole is rapidly advancing. In so far as this situation implies a requirement for continuing development, it has been decided to make up the book in loose-leaf form and to identify chapters with descriptive code names which do not predetermine the order of assembly or prevent the insertion of new chapters.

    Within each chapter, decimal classification is used. Figures and tables are numbered to correspond with the subsection concerned, so that sections or subsections can be added without destroying existing cross-references. In this way, it is hoped that the Manual can be progressively revised to keep pace with the development of the subject.

    The references at the end of each chapter may serve either to indicate sources of specific items which appear in the text, or as suggestions for more general reading. In the latter case, brief comments on the nature of the work may be included.

  • Return to MSOP Introduction / 1979 Edition Table of Contents
  • Date created: 8/5/96
    Last modified: 9/9/97
    Copyright © 1996, 1997, Global Seismological Services
    Maintained by: Eric Bergman