Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Introduction to the digitization of seismic data: A user’s guide

May 25, 2023

Modern seismic data are collected, distributed, and analyzed using digital formats, and this has become a standard for the field. Although most modern seismometers still make use of analog electronic circuits, their data are converted from an analog voltage output to time‐tagged counts by way of digitization. Although much of the digitization process is not complicated to conceptualize, there is a fair bit of jargon in digitizer specifications, and a few pitfalls that can arise in the processes of recording and analyzing ground‐motion data. In this article, we review some of the fundamental physical properties of data acquisition systems and the basic steps in digitizing data from an analog instrument (specifically a seismometer). We then briefly discuss the digitization process and some of the key properties needed to make these data useful for seismological applications. Finally, we discuss some of the filtering processes that naturally arise from digitization and how it can affect the processing workflow. The end goal is to provide a user guide that will enable seismologists to have a working knowledge of the digitization process. We focus on aspects central to seismological applications and have tried to avoid getting bogged down in signal processing formalism.

Publication Year 2023
Title Introduction to the digitization of seismic data: A user’s guide
DOI 10.1785/0220220158
Authors Adam T. Ringler, Robert E. Anthony, Patrick Bastien, Adam Pascale, Bion J. Merchant
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Seismological Research Letters
Index ID 70244170
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center