Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Seismology with dark data: Image-based processing of analog records using machine learning for the rangely earthquake control experiment

December 12, 2018

Before the digital era, seismograms were recorded in analog form and read manually by analysts. The digital era represents only about 25% of the total time span of instrumental seismology. Analog data provide important constraints on earthquake processes over the long term, and in some cases are the only data available. The media on which analog data are recorded degrades with time and there is an urgent need for cost‐effective approaches to preserve the information they contain. In this study, we work directly with images by constructing a set of image‐based methods for earthquake processing, rather than pursue the usual approach of converting analog data to vector time series. We demonstrate this approach on one month of continuous Develocorder films from the Rangely earthquake control experiment run by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). We scan the films into images and compress these into low‐dimensional feature vectors as input to a classifier that separates earthquakes from noise in a defined feature space. We feed the detected event images into a short‐term average/long‐term average (STA/LTA) picker, a grid‐search associator, and a 2D image correlator to measure both absolute arrival times and relative arrival‐time differences between events. We use these measurements to locate the earthquakes using hypoDD. In the month that we studied, we identified 40 events clustered near the injection wells. In the original study, Raleigh et al. (1976) identified only 32 events during the same period. Scanning without vectorizing analog seismograms represents an attractive approach to archiving these perishable data. We demonstrated that it is possible to carry out precision seismology directly on such images. Our approach has the potential for wide application to analog seismograms.

Related Content