Database of the

IASPEI Sub-Committee

Historical instruments and

documents in Seismology

Instruments and Observatories

This database contains the preliminary data of a census of the seismic instruments which were used world-wide in observatories and seismic stations from the nineteenth century till the Seventies. The census is one of the activities of the Sub-Committee Historical Instruments and Documents in Seismology. For Europe the data come from two previous censuses (the TROMOS project for Italy and the ESC WG History of Seismometry for the rest of Europe) that were partially updated. For the rest of the world they come from various published and unpublished sources which present very different levels of reliability and completeness. There is much gathered and articulated information, which however is not evenly distributed. Therefore, in this first phase we have opted to place at disposal a limited number of informative fields, for which in general exist data.
Generally, the instruments are indicated with the name of the scholar who designed it. Some scholars designed various, very different instruments. In these cases, for this first phase, only the data of the most widespread instruments were included. For example, under G. Agamennone only the records relative to the microseismograph with two horizontal components (in some versions also with a vertical component) are mentioned, the remaining information relative to other, different Agamennone seismographs found in Italy and Europe will be included in a second phase. Generally, the instruments listed are seismographs. When it is known, seismoscopes and seismic warning devices were abbreviated into swd. Empty fields in the table mean that the sources do not specify the situation.
The principal purpose to release these data is to give as much information as possible, even if it is incomplete and in some cases highly approximate, on the location, on the period of the functioning and on the availability of registrations of the seismic instruments that were used world–wide, before the wide distribution of electronic instruments.
The database is open for any contribution by all researchers. We thus invite anyone interested to signal information that can integrate or correct the available information here. The information documented by bibliographic references or by direct personal experience is favoured.

For information, suggestions or update of the data please contact:

Ferrari Graziano
SGA Storia Geofisica Ambiente
Via Bellombra, 24/2
40136 Bologna Italy
Phone: +39 051333282
Fax: +39 051332741

As regards the provided information please keep in mind the following considerations:
Code: International code of the station. Some localities like Trieste and Ljubljana appear under several abbreviations, because they refer to different locations of stations.

Working from/to: Modern instruments installed in general after 1975 were excluded from the list.

Instrument: SP = Short Period; LP = Long Period; SM = Strong Motion

Station: In this phase the name of the locality was used to identify the observatory, the station in which the instruments were or are still being used.

Component: H and 2H indicate respectively instruments of one or two horizontal components when the direction of the polarisation is not explicitly indicated. Z indicates a vertical, one-component instrument. In general the 2H instruments decompose the signal in two orthogonal, horizontal components and register the two tracks on two pieces of paper or on different area of the same paper. In some cases, instruments like the Vicentini microseismograph, which normally work polarised on one component, seem to have worked as a 2H.
In other cases, for instruments like the Agamennone microseismograph with two horizontal components there existed also a not widely used version with an additional vertical component.
In some cases when the information was very brief we have preferred to leave it in its original form with the intention to update it in a subsequent phase of the research.

Bulletin from/to: These data are very provisional and have different levels of completeness. Some examples of open problems: the time span does not always refer to the data of the registrations of only one instrument, but to those of an entire observatory. It is thus possible that the period of a bulletin for one instrument is longer than the working period of the instrument itself. This is due to the different level of detail of the analysed sources.

Legend of abbreviations used for institutions keeping microfilms of records
ANU Res.Sch.Earth Sci., Australian Nat. University, Canberra, AU
BGS British Geological Survey, UK
BMR(1) Bureau of mineral resources, Mundaring, WA, 6073
BMR Bureau of mineral resources, P.O.Box 378, Canberra, 2061
DIAS Dublin Institute for Advanced Studie
CWB Central Weather Bureau Taipei China
DSIR Geophysics Division of the government Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in Wellington Wellington, New Zeland)
HIAG Helwan Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics, Helwan, Cairo, Egypt
ISC International Seismological Centre, Newsbury, GB
IGGU Institute fur Geophysik of the University of Gottingen, Gottingen D
IGLAC Instituto Geofisico de Los Andes Colombianos, CO
IMD India Metereological Department, New Delhi, India
ING Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica, Rome, I
IPGS Institute de Phisic du Globe in Strasbourg, F
KU Kyoto University, J
LDGO Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Palisades, New York, USA
MO Manila Observatory, Manila, Philippines
NSA National Seismological Archive, UK
ORSTOM Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outremer
SBMO San Bartolomé Metereological Observatory, Bogotà, CO
SDUU Seismological Department Uppsala University, Uppsala, S
SI Sutton Institute of Earthquake Physics, Eastwood, SA
SIC Seismological Institute of the Observatorio Astronomico Sismologico Geomagnetico Juan Manuel Cagigal
SSBC Institute of Geophysics State Seismological Bureau of China
UQ Dept. Of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Queensland, QLD, 4067
UT Dept. Of Geology, University of Tasmania, Hobart

Access to the Database


web site developed by Claudio Righini,SGA Storia Geofisica Ambiente, Bologna, Italy

last update April 2000