Outreach and Educational Activities


The BSL is involved in a variety of outreach activities, ranging from lectures and lab tours to educational displays and the development of classroom materials for K-12 teachers. We maintain an earthquake information tape (510-642-2160) and an extensive set of Web pages, providing basic earthquake and seismic hazard information for northern and central California.

Outreach Overview

The BSL has several on-going outreach programs, such as the educational displays, WWW development, and the Earthquake Research Affiliates Program.

Educational Displays

As part of the BSL's outreach activities, we have made REDI earthquake data available to a number of universities, colleges, and museums as educational displays. As noted above, this year marked the expansion of this program to the K-12 environment. Participating organizations receive a REDI pager and the Qpager software to display the earthquake information. The Qpager program maps the previous seven days of seismicity, with earthquake shown as a dot. The size of the dot indicates the magnitude of the event, while the color of the dot indicates its age. These educational displays have been installed at UC Berkeley (McCone Hall, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, LHS), California Academy of Sciences, CSU Fresno, CSU Northridge, CSU Sacramento, Caltech, College of the Redwoods, Fresno City College, Humboldt State University, San Diego State University, Sonoma State University, Stanford University (Blume Engineering Center, Department of Geophysics), UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, and USC. In a pilot project initiated two years ago, the San Francisco Unified School District has been given two pager systems for use in middle school classrooms.

In addition to the seismicity displays, the BSL provides local waveform feeds for helicorders at several visitor centers associated with BDSN stations (CMB and MHC). Organizations such as LHS, KRON, and KPIX receive feeds from BKS via dedicated phone lines for display, while the USGS Menlo Park uses data from CMB for display in the lobby of the seismology building. The BSL has also loaned a seismometer and helicorder display to the San Leandro Unified School District for their use in science classes.


Over the last year, we have continued to expand our presence on the WWW. Our primary goal has been to provide a source of earthquake information for the public, although we also provide information about the networks, such as station profiles, which benefits the research community as well. We provide such information as seminar schedules, course advertisements, descriptions of operations and research, updates on recent earthquake activity, details on Bay Area seismicity and hazards, and links to other earthquake and earth science servers. We also use the WWW server for our own information distribution, with such details as the computing and operational resources, rosters, and schedules for various purposes. Last year, we began an effort to update and revamp our Web pages, as described below.

Earthquake Research Affiliates

The UC Berkeley Earthquake Research Affiliates (ERA) Program is an outreach project of the BSL, the Department of Geology and Geophysics, and the Earthquake Engineering Research Center. The purpose is to promote the support of earthquake research while involving corporations and governmental agencies in academic investigation and education activities such as conferences and field trips. The ERA program provides an interface between the academic investigation and practical application of earthquake studies.

2002-2003 Activities

Tours and Presentations

BSL staff spent considerable time with public relations activities during the past year. Several tours are given each month, with audiences ranging from middle-school students to scientists and engineers from China and Japan.

The BSL hosted several special groups during 2002-2003. Several of large groups visited, including a class from San Francisco State and 20 members of the Alameda County Sheriff's Emergency Communications Team A number of schools scheduled visits, many of them in April during Earthquake Awareness Month. April was so busy this year that we actually turned away tours.

In addition to the tours, Drs. Romanowicz, Dreger, Uhrhammer, and Gee presented talks on earthquakes and related phenomena to public groups. Dr. Gee gave a presentation for the City of Berkeley, directed at visitors from Japan visiting the Bay Area.

UC Regents

The BSL held a special tour this year for the UC Regents, who visited the Berkeley campus on June 11-12th. The Regents met in the BSL conference room and heard a presentation from Dr. Gee on the BSL history, operations, and research. Fortunately, an M3.3 earthquake occurred just a few minutes before the presentation, so the Regents could see the waveforms on the live data feed and see the automatic earthquake location shown on the REDI/CUBE display and on the new CISN Display software. BSL staff put together an Quanterra datalogger with an FBA-23 as an example of seismic instrumentation. When the FBA was placed on the earthquake machine, the Regents could "make" earthquakes by turning the crank that applies a force to pull a brick along the sandpaper surface. Chancellor Bergdahl was seen jumping up and down to create earthquakes on the helicorder.

Open Houses

The BSL participated in both Cal Day (April 12th) and Take Your Child to Work Day (April 24) this year. The attendance for both festivities was quite good - visitors showed up before we opened the doors! The visitors learned about UC Berkeley's role in earthquake monitoring, watched a streaming feed of earthquake data, jumped up and down to "make a quake", played with the earthquake machine, made P and S-waves with springs, learned about earthquake preparedness, and were given sample seismograms. As a special activity during Cal Day, Dr. Peggy Hellweg gave two walking tours of the Hayward fault. These were quite well attended - despite the damp weather.

Quake 2003

The campus held an earthquake drill on June 5, 2000. Dr. Gee worked with Sarah Nathe and Professor Mary Comerio to design a scenario earthquake. Taking advantage of the new USGS scenario ShakeMaps, an M6.5 on the Northern Hayward Fault was selected and the BSL put together a set of Web pages similar to those routinely put together following an event of interest. The Web pages included a press release, the aftershock probabilities, and maps. With help from Johanna Fenton of OES, the scenario ShakeMaps were turned into HAZUS runs predicting regional damage. An unusual aspect of this earthquake exercise was its focus on business resumption. The drill started 48 hours after the simulated earthquake. More information about the exercise is available at http://seismo.berkeley.edu/eqw/q2003/.

1906 Centennial

The centennial of the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake is rapidly approaching! A number of Bay Area organizations are participating in the '06 Earthquake Centennial Alliance and beginning to plan activities memorializing the event and celebrating the progress we've made in reducing earthquake losses.

Although UC Berkeley was spared major damage, the 1906 earthquake did have a significant impact on the campus community. These effects were documented in an issue of the Chronicle of the University of California in 1998 which describes the refugee camps established on the campus and the dispatch of University cadets to help maintain order in San Francisco. Professor Andrew Lawson chaired the State Earthquake Investigation Commission which produced the first comprehensive government-commissioned report on an earthquake.

Given the many ties between the 1906 earthquake and fire and the University, many UC Berkeley units are beginning to coordinate plans for centennial activities. Ideas for centennial activities include new classes, public lecture series, symposia, displays on the progress of the SAFER program, exhibits of 1906 artifacts and photographs, film series, walking tours, and many others. A small group of people are meeting quarterly at the BSL to plan activities. Information about their plans is available at http://seismo.berkeley.edu/1906/.

Lawson Lecture

As part of centennial activities, the BSL established an annual lecture this year. The public lecture will be held each April and focus on issues of earthquakes and society. This year, the lecture series had a fabulous kick-off with a presentation by Dr. David Schwartz of USGS, Menlo Park. Dr. Schwartz is the leader of Working Group '02, a wide cross-section of the Earth science community, dedicated to quantifying earthquake hazards in the San Francisco Bay Area (Figure 12.1). This lecture was part of the first public announcement of the new earthquake probabilities by Working Group '02. If you missed the lecture, don't despair! A Web cast of the talk is available at http://seismo.berkeley.edu/news/seismo_lecture.html.

SSA 2006

The BSL will co-host the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America (SSA), scheduled for 4/18/2006 - 4/21/2006, with the USGS. Discussions are currently underway among SSA, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), and OES to create a "mega" spanning earth sciences, earthquake engineering, and disaster response and mitigation. The SSA meeting will also provide the opportunity to kick-off the centennial of the Society.

Web Pages

The BSL began a program to update and revamp their Web pages this year. Although still in progress, the new Web pages are designed to give greater focus to the research program.


The BSL published a four-page brochure this year. This publication fills an important gap. Prior to the brochure, the best handout on BSL activities was this document - the Annual Report! The depth - and length - of the Annual Report limit its use as a general purpose publication. The brochure is also available through the BSL Web site.


Lind Gee oversees the outreach activities at the BSL. Barbara Romanowicz, Bob Uhrhammer, Rick McKenzie, and many other faculty, staff, and students at the BSL contribute to the outreach activities. Lisa Krain helped with the upkeep and development of new web pages. Lind Gee contributed to the preparation of this chapter.

Figure 12.1: David Schwartz, Lind Gee, and Barbara Romanowicz at the inaugural Lawson lecture.

Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
215 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-4760
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