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 2009-2010

Michelle Bachelet Visit

Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile from 2006 to March 2010, visited UC Berkeley en route from Expo 2010 Shanghai China with a stop at the BSL, where Professors Barbara Romanowicz and Richard Allen briefed her on earthquake monitoring in California and the BSL's earthquake early warning project (Research Section 19).

Lawson Lecture

In this year's Lawson Lecture, Dr. Carol Prentice of the USGS spoke on ``The Haiti Earthquake of 12 January 2010: A Geologic Perspective.'' Dr. Prentice discussed the tectonic setting and continuing seismic hazard of Hispaniola before moving on to some unusual results from her team's geological investigations of this complex event: They found only minor surface rupture along a short section of the major fault in southern Haiti, and they documented several areas of coastal uplift. She also touched on the tremendous damage and number of fatalities given the size of the event, caused largely by poor construction practices. The Lawson Lectures are webcast at

Vigilance 2010

Each year, the Office of Emergency Preparedness organizes an emergency preparedness and response exercise. This year's scenario ``Vigilance 2010,'' involved a magnitude 5.5 earthquake on the Hayward Fault that lead to a hazardous material spill on campus. The BSL worked with staff at the Office of Emergency Preparedness to contribute damage descriptions for four UC Berkeley buildings affected in the scenario.

October 15, 2009: The Great California Shakeout

In addition to crouching under their desks at 10:15 AM shortly before the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake, BSL students, researchers, and staff were encouraged to review or make emergency preparedness plans and to pass on the seismic safety message to their friends, families, and communities.

Teacher Training

Earth science, and earthquakes, are studied in 6th and 9th grades, but are always of interest when the topic comes up in the news. The BSL has often contributed to and participated in training programs for teachers, to let them know about our current understanding of the earthquake hazard in the Bay Area and to impart to them some of the excitement we feel about our studies. A full day teacher training program on earthquakes was jointly organized by the BSL and the California State University East Bay (Hayward) geology program. On July 28, 2009, about 30 teachers listened to lectures on tectonics and earthquakes, with particular emphasis on the Bay Area. In the afternoon, the group went on a field trip to see where the Hayward Fault runs through downtown Hayward and Cal Memorial Stadium.

On-Going Activities

As in every year, tours and presentations formed an important part of BSL's public relations activities. Each year, 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 2009-2010 the BSL conducted several tours, with audiences ranging from local summer campers to undergraduates from Vancouver. In addition to the tours, Drs. Hellweg and Nadeau presented talks on earthquakes and related phenomena to public groups. Dr. Hellweg, Rick McKenzie, and graduate students Ana Luz Acevedo-Cabrera and Patrick Statz-Boyer also gave presentations to UC Berkeley's own ASUC senate.

Open House

The BSL again participated in Cal Day. This year, the lab was a designated stop in the Cal Day Passport, so young visitors received passport stickers as well as sample seismograms. Guests found their house or school amidst a Google Earth display of seismicity, viewed computer displays showing real-time seismic data and illustrating earthquake statistics and science concepts, jumped up and down to ``make a quake," and played with the stick-slip model ``earthquake machine.'' Graduate student volunteers were on hand to explain our exhibits and talk with visitors about UC Berkeley's role in earthquake monitoring.


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, written by Horst Rademacher ( These pages are full of fascinating examples of geophysical science written with a clarity that can be appreciated by all. Many of this year's blog entries highlighted research and reconnaissance findings related to the offshore Ferndale, Haiti, and Chile quakes.

In the summer and fall of 2009, undergraduates Sam Peach, Matt DeMartini, and Chris Rawles, working under Dr. Kevin Mayeda, finished editing several outreach videos. New movies posted to the BSL outreach site include Dr. Peggy Hellweg's seismometer and model demonstrations, Dr. Richard Allen's discussion of the Earthscope project, and an updated film showing the Lawrence Hall of Science shake table in action. These videos are available at

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. Jennifer Taggart and Peggy Hellweg contributed to the preparation of this section.

Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
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