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 2008-2009

1868 Hayward Earthquake 140th Anniversary

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 represented an important anniversary.

The 1868 Earthquake Alliance used 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 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 contributed to the commemoration activities and participated in their organization. Around the time of the anniversary, Peggy Hellweg led several tours of the Hayward Fault on the UC Berkeley Campus. The tour for the readers of Bay Nature (and others) was so popular that she took two groups to Memorial Stadium and beyond. On a Saturday in November, the members of the Northern California Geological Society visited the Campus to see the fault as well as the retrofit projects. Several teacher training workshops also featured talks and presentations by Peggy Hellweg on the Hayward Fault and earthquake hazards in the Bay Area and around the world.

The 140th anniversary of the Hayward Earthquake was also the impetus for holding the ``Third Conference on Earthquake Hazards in the Eastern San Francisco Bay Region," which took place October 22-26, 2008, at Cal State University East Bay (Hayward). The previous two conferences were held in 1982 and 1992. The BSL co-organized this conference, with Roland Bürgmann and Peggy Hellweg serving on the organizing committee. The meeting included three days of technical sessions, a public forum, and field trips. Many members of the BSL presented their recent work at the meeting.

Outreach Web Page Upgrade

Dr. Kevin Mayeda is currently heading a major outreach project designed to raise awareness of seismic hazard posed by the Hayward Fault. One goal is to develop a series of age-appropriate presentations and pamphlets for BSL scientists to use when giving talks at area schools and other community organizations. A second goal of this project is to revamp the existing BSL outreach web site, with new activities and teacher resources, videos about the Hayward Fault and research by BSL scientists, and a new look and feel. The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation provided startup funding for this project. This summer, the BSL hired three UC Berkeley undergraduate students, Sam Peach, Matt DeMartini, and Chris Rawles, to produce presentations and videos about the Hayward Fault, earthquakes, and current earthquake research. With Jennifer Taggart, they also redesigned the outreach portion of the BSL web page. This project is expected to continue, with more presentations and videos being created over time as funding allows. This new suite of web pages is available at

Lawson Lecture

In this year's Lawson Lecture, Chris Poland of Degenkolb Engineers spoke on ``Building Resilient Communities: Fresh Challenges for Earthquake Professionals." In many cases, the need to develop and implement earthquake resistance founders in misunderstanding, complacency, and poor funding. The best way to ensure that a municipality can recover from a natural disaster is prepare for it in advance. A city such as San Francisco needs to name the hazard, define performance, and establish goals that represent the resiliency needed to support the community's natural ability to rebound from such a major seismic event, and then work toward those goals. The Lawson Lectures are webcast at

On-Going Activities

Figure 3.31: The group from ``Sees the Day'' has visited us now each summer for several years.
\epsfig{file=outreach09_1.eps, width=8cm}\end{center}\end{figure}

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 2008-2009 the BSL conducted several tours, both for local schools and groups from around the world. 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. This year, particular attention was given to updating and rejuvenating our hallway displays. Jennifer Taggart provided the basic themes and backdrops for displaying BSL's past and current role in seismology, complete with the instrumentation and networks used along the way.

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. This annual event happened to occur on the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake this year. Attendance was exceptionally good. 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 co-sponsored a lecture with the Earth and Planetary Science department on ``A Tectonic Time Bomb in Our Backyard: Earthquake Potential of the Hayward Fault'' by Associate Research Seismologist Kevin Mayeda.


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.

BSL on the Web

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.

Since September, 2008 the BSL has hosted its own blog ( These pages are full of fascinating examples of geophysical science written with a clarity that can be appreciated by all. The entries are usually related to the latest happenings in the seismic world and are thus very current, increasing their interest even more.

Earthquake Research Affiliates Program

The UC Berkeley Earthquake Research Affiliates (ERA) Program is an outreach project of the BSL. 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, Jennifer Taggart, and Peggy Hellweg contributed to the preparation of this section.

Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
215 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-4760
Questions or comments? Send e-mail:
© 2007, The Regents of the University of California