Seismic Noise Analysis

BSL seismic data are routinely monitored for state-of-health. An automated analysis is computed weekly to characterize the seismic noise level recorded by each broadband seismometer. The estimation of the Power Spectral Density (PSD) of the ground motion recorded at a seismic station provides an objective measure of background seismic noise characteristics over a wide range of frequencies. When used routinely, the PSD algorithm also provides an objective measure of seasonal and secular variation in the noise characteristics and aids in the early diagnoses of instrumental problems. A PSD estimation algorithm was developed in the early 1990's at the BSL for characterizing the background seismic noise and as a tool for quality control. As presently implemented, the algorithm sends the results via email to the engineering and some research staff members and generates a bargraph output which compares all the BDSN broadband stations by components. A summary of the results for 2004-2005 is displayed in Figure 3.3. Other PSD plots for the NHFN, HRSN, and MPBO are shown in Figures 5.3, 6.2, and 8.4 respectively.

Four years ago, we expanded our use of the weekly PSD results to monitor trends in the noise level at each station. In addition to the weekly bar graph, additional figures showing the analysis for the current year are produced. These cumulative PSD plots are generated for each station and show the noise level in 5 frequency bands for the broadband channels. These cumulative plots make it easier to spot certain problems, such as failure of a sensor. In addition to the station-based plots, a summary plot for each channel is produced, comparing all stations. These figures are presented as part of a noise analysis of the BDSN on the WWW at

The PSD algorithm has been documented in previous annual reports.


Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
215 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-4760
Questions or comments? Send e-mail:
© 2005, The Regents of the University of California