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Seismic monitoring during crises at the NEIC in support of the ANSS

July 14, 2021

Over the past two decades, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) has overcome many operational challenges. These range from minor disruptions, such as power outages, to significant operational changes, including system reconfiguration to handle unique earthquake sequences and the need to handle distributed work during a pandemic. Our ability to overcome crises is built on the development and implementation of a continuity of operations plan, well‐designed infrastructure, adaptive software systems, experienced staff, and extensive collaboration. The NEIC does not operate in a vacuum but benefits from contributions of United States and international seismic networks. Similarly, the overall resilience of earthquake monitoring in the United States and around the globe benefits from the NEIC’s role as the national center for the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS). Here, we highlight significant adaptations the NEIC has made in the face of crises. We discuss the COVID‐19 pandemic, which represents the most significant operational crisis to impact the NEIC. The NEIC has maintained continuous operations during the ongoing COVID‐19 pandemic by shifting from a fully onsite operations center to a distributed hybrid of onsite and telework staffing. We then discuss cases in which the NEIC has supported regional monitoring in the face of significant crises. In 2018, the NEIC assisted the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory with the Kīlauea volcano eruption by responding to large events, implementing contingency monitoring procedures, and calculating moment magnitudes for the low‐frequency caldera collapses. Impacts of a crisis extend beyond the immediate response and often require a significant postevent assessment and a rebuilding phase. After the 2017 Hurricane Maria, the NEIC, the USGS National Strong‐Motion Program, and the USGS Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory worked with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network and the Puerto Rico Strong‐Motion program to assess, plan, and implement upgrades at sites that experienced storm damage.