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21-23. Next generation global earthquake monitoring


Closing Date: November 1, 2022

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.

Please communicate with individual Research Advisor(s) on the right to discuss project ideas and answer specific questions about the Research Opportunity.

How to Apply


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) detects, locates, and characterizes tens of thousands of earthquakes globally each year. The near real-time catalog they produce spans the global range of earthquake sizes, tectonic environments, and seismic-station coverage. This catalog acts as the foundational data required to rapidly assess the potential impact of an earthquake, and NEIC’s subsequent long-term refined catalog acts as the foundation of hazard mapping and seismotectonic research. NEIC places a large emphasis on the timeliness and accuracy of event characterization, including the rapid estimation of fundamental earthquake properties, such as location, depth, magnitude, and other source characteristics. The earthquake catalog produced by the NEIC is a fundamental product that that touches on a wide variety of products and research. Therefore, improving the speed and accuracy of earthquake detection, association, location, magnitude estimation, and cataloging time not only improves NEIC’s operations, but has a significant impact on downstream products.  

Recent technological developments and novel datasets have the potential to revolutionize the traditional approaches to earthquake monitoring, and either replace or supplement core algorithms in the earthquake monitoring pipeline. For example, novel datasets, such as social media posting, can be used to rapidly detect the occurrence of a high-impact events. Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) shows potential to allow seismic observations in previously unobtainable locations, such as oceans. Similarly, Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems have allowed for unprecedented observation density and faster event detection.  An increasing amount of research has focused on machine-learning-based event-processing methodologies. These techniques have been shown to generalize well, have unprecedented accuracy, are fast, and have the potential to revolutionize seismic monitoring systems and have recently been applied to a large variety of earthquake characterization problems such as improving seismic phase arrival time estimates, earthquake detection, seismic phase association, denoising seismic signals, discrimination of source types, and single station magnitude estimation.  

For the NEIC to stay on the leading edge of global earthquake monitoring and best support downstream products, it must begin to take advantage of these novel approaches in its near-real time operational systems. Most research applications in the seismology community focus on local and regional datasets, which have a smaller variety of source types, higher quality signals, and better constrained network configurations as compared to the global case. Designing tools that work on a global scale is particularly difficult because of the variability in global earthquake observations and station density.  

The focus of this Mendenhall Research Opportunity is to develop the scientific framework for more rapid, more complete, and more accurate characterization of earthquake properties (i.e., event detection, location, magnitude, source characteristics, seismotectonic setting) specifically targeted at global earthquake monitoring. This research can focus on improving, supplementing, or replacing traditional approaches (e.g., STA/LTA pickers, association, magnitude estimation), or target novel procedures that improve the event processing framework. This research should concurrently improve our longer-term understanding of the earthquake process and earthquake cycles. While the monitoring component of this project has direct implications for the rapid characterization and understanding of both large and small earthquakes in real-time, the research involved in this project will improve our understanding of the earthquake sources and seismotectonic settings.  This research is important to both the NEIC’s primary monitoring mission, facilitating more automated processing, and to broader seismotectonic research.   

We expect that proposals may be largely exploratory but will be strengthened via the demonstration of its use for NEIC’s operational monitoring mission. Candidates are encouraged to explore novel and state-of-the art methods to aid in global earthquake detection or estimating earthquake properties, and the potential to integrate such methodology - and improvements to these techniques - into USGS/NEIC rapid earthquake characterization and related response activities. With the development of these technologies, research into the potential pitfalls of these algorithms, and rigorous comparison with standard monitoring techniques will be required.  

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas. 

Proposed Duty Station(s): Golden, Colorado  

Areas of PhD: Geophysics, seismology, computer-science (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines but with knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).  

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geophysicist, Research Computer Scientist, or Research Statistician

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.

Human Resources Office Contact:  Oluwabukola Alimi, 303-236-9597,

Apply Here