Outreach and Educational Activities


The BSL is involved in a variety of outreach activities ranging from lectures to lab tours and educational displays. Recorded information on current earthquake activity is updated regularly on our information tape (510-642-2160). Additional basic information on earthquakes and seismic hazards for northern and central California, as well as other information about seismology and our research, can be found on our extensive set of web pages at

Highlights of 2007-2008

The Hayward Fault runs through the UCB campus. It last ruptured on October 21, 1868. Since then, new scientific insights put the average interval between large earthquakes on the Hayward Fault at 140 years; 2008 represents an important anniversary.

This year's Lawson Lecture highlighted local concerns. Dr. Roland Bürgmann of U.C. Berkeley presented ``A tectonic time bomb in our backyard: Earthquake Potential of the Hayward Fault." He described the many advances, such as GPS monitoring and paleoseismological investigations, that allow us new insight into the forces that cause large movements along the fault. The Lawson Lectures are webcast at

The 1868 Earthquake Alliance is using the 140th anniversary as a unique opportunity to increase public awareness of seismic hazard posed by the Hayward Fault and other East Bay Faults, promote earthquake preparedness and mitigation, and to explore the ways in which the 1868 Hayward earthquake affected the personal lives, culture, economy and development of the greater San Francisco Bay Area ( The BSL is contributing to the commemoration activities and participates in organization.

The 140th anniversary of the Hayward Earthquake is also the impetus for organizing the ``Third Conference on Earthquake Hazards in the Eastern San Francisco Bay Region", which will take place October 22-26, 2008, at Cal State University East Bay (Hayward). The previous two conferences were held in 1982 and 1992. The BSL is a co-organizer of this conference, with Roland Bürgmann and Peggy Hellweg serving on the organizing committee. The meeting will include three days of technical sessions, a public forum, field trips and teacher education programs (

On-Going Activities

Tours and Presentations

As in every year, tours and presentations formed an important part of BSL's public relations activities. Each month, several groups, ranging from middle-school students to scientists and engineers, tour our laboratory under the guidance of a graduate student or a member of the staff.

During 2007-2008 the BSL conducted several tours, both for local schools and groups from around the world. Peggy Hellweg led a group of Germans along the California Faults for the Bild der Wissenschaft magazine, starting in Los Angeles and ending in the San Francisco Bay Area. Several school classes at different grade levels received tours. BSL graduate students also visited local elementary, middle and high schools to talk about earthquakes and how we measure them. In addition to the tours, Drs. Allen, Dreger, Hellweg, Mayeda and Uhrhammer presented talks on earthquakes and related phenomena to public groups and the media.

Open House

The BSL again participated in CalDay. The attendance for the open house was exceptionally good this year. 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. The BSL repeated Roland Bürgmann's Lawson Lecture and also co-sponsored a lecture with the Earth and Planetary Scienc department on ``Field Geology and Digital Mapping.''

Educational Displays

The BSL continues to make REDI earthquake data available to certain schools, universities, colleges, and museums for educational displays. 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 each 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), 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. For the past four years, middle schools of the San Francisco Unified School District have participated in the program.

In addition to the seismicity displays, the BSL provides local waveform feeds for helicorders at 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.

BSL Web Pages

We continue to maintain and update our presence on the Internet. The Web pages are intended to provide a source of earthquake information for the public. They also present information about the networks we operate, including station profiles. This benefits the research community as well. The BSL Web pages publicize seminar schedules, advertise courses, and describe our research, as well as our operations. They offer 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 web server to distribute information internally among BSL personnel, with such details as the computing and operational resources, rosters, and schedules for various purposes.

Earthquake Research Affiliates Program

The UC Berkeley Earthquake Research Affiliates (ERA) Program is an outreach project of the BSL, the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, 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.


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

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