Commission Meeting at Hanoi, Aug 23, 2001


  • Agenda
  • Minutes
  • List of Participants
  • Working Group on Regionalization Final Report
  • Working Group Report: New Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice
  • Scope for IUGG 2003


Thursday 23 August, 2001 1800-1900 ICC - IASPEI Conference Room

  1. Approval of minutes from meeting in 1999
  2. Approval of agenda and suggestions for new points
  3. Introductory remarks: J. Havskov
  4. New commission structure: B. Kennett
    1. Seismic network and data centers
    2. Seismogram analysis
    3. Routine determination of earthquake parameters
    4. Wave propagation in heterogeneous media
    5. Seismological interpretation
  5. Status at international data centers: ISC, NEIC, IMS, and others
  6. Work groups, introductory remarks: J. Havskov
    1. Content of Seismic Bulletins, R. Willemann
    2. Regionalization, J. Young
    3. Standard for seismometer testing B. Hutt
    4. Parameter formats, J. Havskov
    5. Ground truth events, B. Engdahl
    6. Manual of seismological observatory practice, P. Bormann
  7. Proposal for new work groups
  8. Suggestions for 2003 IASPEI symposia and workshops
  9. Closing


Thursday 23 August, 2001, 1800 to 1930, ICC -- IASPEI Conference Room

Topic 0

The Chairman, J. Havskov, welcomed the participants, circulated the agenda, requested the Secretary, P. Bormann, to take notes of the proceedings, and opened the session.

Topic 1

The minutes from meeting in 1999 were approved without changes.

Topic 2

The agenda of the current meeting was approved. No additional items were proposed.

Topic 3

Introductory remarks by Havskov with respect to the proposed changes of the name and scope of the former IASPEI Commission on Practice. He handed the word over to the president, B. Kennett.

Topic 4

B. Kennett outlined that in the past there have been, besides CoP, other IASPEI Commissions on related topics which had, however, no effective links with CoP. The scope and structure of the proposed new Commission aims at better reflecting what we are doing and at combining our efforts. We hope that nothing valuable done before is lost but higher efficiency and transparency is envisaged. In 2007, or if needed earlier, we should review how the new commission works and consider changes, if required. In the agenda, several topics have been proposed for this new Commission. They should be considered and along these lines more specific working groups may be proposed. The Secretary General of IASPEI, R. Engdahl, will contact several people and invited their involvement in the work of CoSOI. In general, IASPEI intends to reduce the number of commissions by linking related subjects, e.g., by merging the Commission on Education and the Commission for Developing Countries in a new Commission on Education and Outreach. Some names of some other commission will have to be reconsidered as well. The new commissions should be more thematically oriented and play a greater role in elaborating the scientific programs of future IASPEI meetings and other related activities.

Topic 5

The new commission should in future practise a closer collaboration with the international data centers. Short reports were given by R. Willemann about the progress made at the ISC and by K. Shedlock about current developments at NEIC (at the moment already 2000 real-time channels coming in, running parallel to the old system; about 30.000 real-time channels, including strong-motion recordings, are planned; currently negotiating some real-time channels also in South America; The trend is to take full advantage of wave-forms. However NEIC will continue to accept parameter data (analysts reports from stations/networks will override automatically derived parameter determinations). B. Kennett briefed on the current status of the IMS/IDC and the decision that the IDC will produce its own bulletin because of the non-release of data to ISC/NEIC. The IASPEI bureau will push another resolution on this critical issue which jeopardizes the work of the seismological world data centers. The ISC Governing Council will also put forward its own resolution to this effect.

Topic 6

The CoP working groups report about their activities and related decisions are taken.

6.1: The WG on Content of Seismic Bulletins had initiated the successful Workshop S8.3 at the current meeting in Hanoi. The results will be taken into consideration in the future work of the ISC. The chairman, Ray Willemann proposed to close the WG since he had found it difficult to find other members. It was agreed upon to terminate this WG.

6.2: The WG on Regionalization (WGR) submitted its final report. The partially remaining task of Third (local, national) Level Regionalization was no longer considered to be a task of IASPEI as an interregional scientific organization. Therefore, the Commission decided to terminate the work of the WG. P. Bormann informed the Commission that he had invited G. Leydecker, who had been responsible for the third level regionalization of Germany after unification, to present at the Hanoi meeting a poster and talk on the present statue of third level regionalization in Europe and to prepare for the New Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice (NMSOP) an information sheet on recommended WGR guidelines for third level regionalization. This will assist countries, which have not yet been able to complete this task, to carry it out later in an internationally tested, approved and compatible standard way. John Young was thanked for his many years of work and was given permission to publish the work.

6.3: No report has been submitted by the WG on Standards for Seismometer Testing (chairman B. Hutt) and no activity has become known to the Committee so far. Therefore, it was decided to close this group. The Committee realizes, however, that international standards for seismometer testing, recommended and approved by IASPEI, might be of broader interest, also for manufacturers. The Committee is, therefore, open to consider the reinstallation of such a IASPEI WG if on-going activities and a working plan for the next years are reported to it by B. Hutt.

6.4: The chairman of the WG on Parameter Formats, J. Havskov, briefed the Commission on the various efforts in the past years to develop and agree on a new seismological parameter format which replaces the old, cumbersome and incomplete telex format, makes full use of now generally available e-mail and internet connections, allows unique, more detailed and complementary descriptive parameter reporting to international data centers and is, at the same time, flexible enough to easily accommodate possible future additional requirements for parameter reporting. He welcomed the initiative taken by R. Willemann of the ISC, to develop and test a new IASPEI Parameter Format (ISF), which is compliant with the IMS1.0 standard however more complete and flexible so as to permit the reporting of additional parameters of interest for the broader seismological research community. R. Willemann stated, that the ISC will start using this format if it is approved by the Commission. Following a respective move by the president of IASPEI, B., Kennett, the Commission approved the ISF as the new IASPEI seismological parameter format. P. Bormann recommended, that the final version of the ISF, as agreed with R. Willemann, be attached as an information sheet to Chapter 9 of the NMSOP on Formats, Archival and Exchange of Seismological Data. He also requested that the ISC contributes to the NMSOP another information sheet, giving case examples for recommended e-mail parameter reporting to the ISC by seismological stations and network centers in concordance with the approved ISF. R. Willemann informed, that the ISF will also be distributed to all ISC contributors via the ISC bulk-mail. The Commission agreed to close the WG on Formats. It was agreed upon that the ISC would implement future changes as needed, subject to approval at the next Commission meeting. R. Willemann offered that ISC will make a toolbox of subroutines for reading and writing ISF formatted lines so that the new format easily can be implemented into existing processing software.

6.5: R. Engdahl informed about the status of the WG on Reference Events. It has developed the criteria for the selection of such (GT) events, established a website and is now developing the data base of such events. Proposals for suitable reference events can be submitted through the web site. In this context, the President recommended that the Commission develops, as part of the IASPEI homepage, its own web site and provides from it links to the respective websites of its WGs. The Chairman of the Commission will take appropriate steps to this effect.

6.6: P. Bormann reported about the activities of the WG New Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice. The last Workshop session organized by the WG has been scheduled for Thursday, 30 August, at this IASPEI meeting. It is complemented by a two days poster session, which gives an overview about all Manual chapters. Although 3 out of the 13 chapters are still in preparation, the WG chairman recommended, to disband this working group after the Hanoi meeting, since the remaining work to be done is chiefly that of the two editors, namely of P. Bormann for the printed manual version and of E. Bergman for the manual website. Both are planned to be completed by the ESC meeting in 2002 in Genua, Italy. As urgent matters, P. Bormann recommended in his report to agree soonest on IASPEI standard phase names as well as on magnitude measurements and related unique nomenclature. He also emphasized the need, that the Commission continues to take an eye on the new IASPEI manual also in future so as to assure that always competent guidance in the interest of the seismological community is given to the operators and analysts at seismological observatories and network centers. While it will be easier to keep the website up-to-date, the printed and recommended CD versions should be reissued from time to time as well. The President suggested a review period by the Commission in about 5 years time. J. Havskov expressed his thanks to the chairman and the members of the Manual WG for their great efforts to produce a new IASPEI MSOP.

Topic 7

The following new WGs have been proposed and adopted for the Commission on Seismological Observation and Interpretation:

  • WG on Standard Phase Names; Chairman: D. Storchak (ISC), Member: R. Engdahl and B. Kennett (others may be invited or consulted as required);
  • WG on Magnitude Measurements; Chair(wo)men: K. Shedlock (NEIC), members will be invited by the K. Shedlock.
  • WG on Multiple Event Location; Chairman P. Richards (Columbia University). Members will be invited by P. Richards.

B. Kennett informed in this context that the subcommission on Heterogeneity (Chairman Ru-ShanWu) should be given some more time to complete its work and its tasks to be integrated later into another relevant WG of the Commission. He also informed that the printed brochure of the Seismological Tables IASP91 are now out of print and stock and that no reprint is considered. Rather, it is planned to provide a PDF version of both IASP91 and of the ak135 tables and a related program on the web site by the end of 2001.

Topic 8

B. Kennett passed a proposal to the Commission chairman, J. Havskov, with suggestions for symposia and workshops at the IUGG/IASPEI meeting 2003 in Sapporo, requesting that it be circulated to members present with this report, inviting comments and feedback (Annex 5)

Topic 9

The session was closed at 19:30 h.

List of participants

Working Group on Regionalization Final Report

This is the final report of the Working Group and any viewsexpressed are entirely those of the Chairman.

At the last meeting of the Group at the IUGG in Birmingham a number of items were picked for completion by the time of this meeting, as well as the on-going work of third level or "local" regionalisation. Some of these items of work were completed or nearly completed by the time of the successful regionalisation workshop held at the ESC in Lisbon in 2000. It was during the ESC in Lisbon that I was informed of the Commission's intention to "terminate" the Group. Regrettably, the announcement has had a profound affect not only on my ability to allocate time to my duties but also on the morale of myself and the members of the Group. However, the work on the European Third Level Regionalisation is nearly finished and the Group seeks a final approval from the Commission for publication by Elsevier. Any other work completed is now wasted.

The Group was formed by the Commission on Practice at the IASPEI meeting in Tokyo in 1985 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Ted Flinn. The first full meetings of the Group took place at the IUGG in Vancouver in 1987. Soon after, Ted was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died shortly before the next meeting of the Group at the IASPEI meeting in Istanbul in 1989. As I am not a seismologist I was surprised to be asked by the Commission to take on the task of chairman (a task which I now reluctantly relinquish after 12 years). The next meetings of the Group at the IUGG in Vienna in 1991 outlined the work needed to complete the tasks set by the Commission. Yearly meetings of the Group followed until 1997; after 1997 the group decided to meet only every two years. The revised "F-E Code", the so-called Second Level Regionalisation was published in 1996. The Third Level Regionalisation was deemed to have started in 1994 but some work had been done before this date.

The work of the Group remains largely unfinished. I regret that I am unable to continue the task set by the Commission at the Istanbul meeting. Diminished status and lack of funding at Blacknest means my contribution to the Group has been minimal. I realise that my position is not unique and finding volunteers for Working Groups at this time has never been more difficult. But the lack of foresight and support does not seem to be only the prerogative of Governments. I cannot finish my final report without thanking the many people who have 'played' a part in regionalisation over the last 20 years either as members of the Group, interested parties, or supporters of the 'cause'. I won't name names; you know who you are. Thank You! Respectfully submitted,

John Young, Chairman.

Working Group Report: New Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice


The Working Group was established in 1994. A concept for the New Manual of Seismologi-cal Observatory Practice (NMSOP) was proposed in 1995, the work started in 1996. A web page was established in the same year under ( in order to make first drafts already available to a wide community and to invited feedback and comments. Also most part of the 1979 edition of the MSOP was put on this website for reference. Officially, the WG finishes its work by 2001, although both the final and reviewed printed version and the web site of the NMSOP will be available only in 2002. The work will be completed by the two editors, P. Bormann (for the printed version) and E. Bergman (for the web site).


The completion of the manual was much delayed due to several drop-outs of originally invited contributors, from the USA (4) in particular. Their work had to be taken up, with several years of delay, by the chairman of the WG and other German colleagues. In total there have been 27 contributors from 7 countries: Germany (13), USA (6?), Norway (3), UK (2), Belgium, Slowenia and Czechia (1 each).

Status of work

By the IASPEI meeting in Hanoi, 2001, 10 out of 13 planned chapters have been completed and reviewed (by 2 to 4 external reviewers). This finished material is readily formatted for printing, in total about 550 pages. 3 more chapters are still in preparation, two of them half ready. The introductory chapter can only be written when all other chapters are completed. The same applies to the index, the list of acronyms, list of contents, list of authors etc. In total, the manual, with its annexes, will comprise about 700 to 800 pages.

The website contains at present the first drafts of only partially or not yet reviewed chapters and sections of the manual, about half of the expected total. With the reviews of most chapters now being available, it is hoped that the process of putting the final manual version now on the web could be accelerated and finished by summer 2002. On this matter, the website editor will report separately.


Although the WG will be closed in 2001, the IASPEI CoP and its follow-up Committee and WGs should support the completion of the New IASPEI Manual and ensure, that its website will be kept up-to-date in future as a main IASPEI reference source and public service. Several important issues relevant to future observatory practice are still unresolved and await urgent decisions and clarification by the new Commission, in particular:

  • Propagating and promoting the ISOP concept of analyzing and reporting secondary phases and complementary relevant information to international data centers;
  • Adoption of the new IASPEI Seismic Format (ISF) and issuing new reporting standards/procedures for seismic stations and networks in tune with it;
  • New extended standard phase and magnitude nomenclature which makes full use of the broader reporting capabilities and flexibility of the ISF;
  • Future reviews and, if needed, updates of the NMSOP should be a Commission task.

Potsdam, 13.08.2001

Peter Bormann, Chairman of the WG NMSOP

Scope for IUGG 2003

The essence of seismology lies in the observation and interpretation of earthquakes and earthquake-generated ground motions, together with effective data distribution and analysis. We now have a worldwide system of seismograph stations supplemented by diverse deployments of portable instrumentation. There is a continuing need to improve mechanisms for the archiving, dissemination and analysis of these data for the benefit of all researchers and users of seismological information. The classes of information that are extracted from seismograms need to be reviewed and expanded so as to provide the best possible processing in as timely a fashion as possible.

The real Earth varies in three-dimensions and is anisotropic in part. Thus methods for seismogram interpretation need to take account of the complexities which are revealed in the currently available high quality data. The development of seismic modeling and interpretation problems in complex, interrelated earth structures requires intensive computation and has benefited greatly from advances in computer technology. Methods for data inversion are increasingly escaping from the constraints of local linearization and also exploit the power of parallel computer technology.

Contributions are invited for all aspects of the collection, analysis and interpretation of seismological data including:

  • Developments in seismic networks and data centers - including land, ocean-bottom and planetary networks, multi-parameter observations, early warning systems, large scale portable networks, international data exchange, management of massive data sets.

  • Comprehensive seismogram analysis at single stations, seismic networks and arrays - requirements, potentials and future developments.

  • Rapid and routine determination of earthquake parameters including location and source character, particularly in the context of verification and detection associated with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

  • Advances in wave propagation in heterogeneous media, including synthetic seismograms and waveform modeling in realistic Earth structures, theory and observations of scattering, attenuation and anisotropy.

  • Developments in seismological interpretation, including development of inversion techniques, seismic tomography and whole-earth analysis methods.