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.

2003-2004 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 2003-2004. Several large groups visited, including classes from Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris, France), Sixth Form College (Colchester, England) and the Coast Guard.

In addition to the tours, Drs. Romanowicz, Dreger, Gee, Hellweg, and Uhrhammer, presented talks on earthquakes and related phenomena to public groups. Dr. Gee gave a lecture during Homecoming Weekend.

Open Houses

The BSL participated in Take Your Child to Work Day this year. The attendance for the open house 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.

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 commemorating 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

Lawson Lecture

As part of centennial activities, the BSL established an annual lecture in 2003. The public lecture is held each April and focus on issues of earthquakes and society. This year was the second Lawson Lecture and Dr. Ross Stein of the USGS, Menlo Park, gave an excellent presentation on Earthquake Conversations, that is, how earthquakes interact through the transfer of stress, such as the progression of mainshocks along a fault, aftershocks, seismic quiescence, and earthquake clustering. If you missed the lecture, don't despair! A Web cast of the talk is available at

SSA 2006

The BSL will co-host the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America (SSA), scheduled for 4/18/2006 - 4/22/2006, with the USGS. Plans are moving ahead to hold the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference as a co-convened meeting by the SSA, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. The joint conference, which will be held in the Moscone convention center in San Francisco, will focus on what has been accomplished during the last century, showcasing best practices and research results in science, engineering, and emergency management.

Lind Gee is on the Steering Committee for the anniversary conference and has been participating in monthly conference calls to plan for the meeting. In particular, there is much activity related to setting up the program, developing a realistic budget, and planning for special events such as a banquet celebrating the centennial of SSA. The development of the program is particularly exciting, as the conference is a unique gathering of people in earthquake-related fields. A plenary session is planned for each day, with presentations designed to cross disciplinary boundaries.


Lind Gee oversees the outreach activities at the BSL. Barbara Romanowicz, Peggy Hellweg, Bob Uhrhammer, Rick McKenzie, and many other faculty, staff, and students at the BSL contribute to the outreach activities. Lind Gee contributed to the preparation of this chapter.

Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
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