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TitleA million seismograms lost and found: current status of the Canadian Analog Seismogram Collection
AuthorBent, A L; Coyle, KORCID logo; Cassidy, J FORCID logo
Source2019 Annual Meeting of the Seismological Society of America; Seismological Research Letters vol. 90, no. 2B, 2019 p. 1060-1061,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20190004
PublisherSeismological Society of America (SSA)
Meeting2019 Annual Meeting of the Seismological Society of America; Seattle, WA; US; April 23-26, 2019
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf (Adobe® Reader®)
ProvinceCanada; British Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut; Canada
NTS1; 2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114O; 114P; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
Subjectsgeophysics; seismology; seismological network; seismographs; history; earthquakes; Canadian Analog Seismogram Collection; Collections; Explosions
ProgramCanadian Hazard Information Service
Released2019 03 20
AbstractThe first seismograph in Canada began operation in 1897. The number of stations gradually grew until the 1960s when a national network was developed, increasing the number of stations from 9 in 1955 to 30 by 1970. Expansion of the network has continued. The transition from an analog to a digital network took place primarily during the 1980s. Despite the loss of many seismograms over the decades, the Canadian analog seismogram collection is estimated to consist of about one million records spanning nearly a century. The location and status of the collection have changed several times, occasionally resulting in confusion over ownership. Pressure to dispose of the collection due to storage space issues waxes and wanes as the perceived value of the collection does. In early 2017, it was discovered that the building housing the collection, which had been slated to close in 2018, had closed in 2014 and no one seemed able to verify whether the collection had been moved or destroyed. Through persistent and tenacious questioning, the seismograms were eventually found safe and sound. They are currently housed in a climate-controlled facility with safeguards against hazards such as fire and flood, all of which will slow but not completely prevent the deterioration of these fragile paper records. Pressure to dispose of the collection has currently ceased but access to the data is complicated. The seismograms, which contain a wealth of underutilized information about earthquakes, explosions and other phenomena, cannot be fully exploited in their analog state. Attempts to microfilm the collection in the 1970s were not greatly successful. Improvements made to scanning hardware and digitizing software in recent years are promising but scanning and digitizing one million seismograms remains a daunting task. Nevertheless, it is a long-term goal and we are exploring avenues to facilitate it and considering our priorities if a concerted digitizing effort can be made.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Analog or paper seismograms contain a wealth of information about earthquakes, explosions and other phenomena. Globally this valuable data set is at risk due to deterioration of the records and pressure to dispose of them. Additionally, they cannot be fully utilized unless they are scanned and digitized. This paper discussed the status of the Canadian analog seismogram collection, estimated to consist of one million records. They are currently housed in safe conditions and not targeted for disposal. Scanning and digitizing them is a huge task, which has not yet been undertaken.

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