Data Services Newsletter

Volume 22 : No 1 : Spring 2020

Mars Quake Catalog Available from IRIS Data Services


Since the touchdown of the InSight lander on Mars on November 26, 2018, scientists have been listening to the ground using the SEIS instrument, a seismic module developed by six European institutions in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).1 Data began collection in 2019 and the first of the compiled datasets was made available to the public in September of 2019.2

Being a single, three-component broad-band instrument, it has proven a unique challenge for seismologists to attempt to identify, characterize, and locate quake activity on Mars. The first verifiable marsquake was announced in April, 2019: a very faint signal that was nonetheless a critical milestone in the mission of this new experiment.3 Since then, numerous signals have been identified that, to varying levels of confidence, are natural rumblings within the Red Planet.

Fig1. First detected quake on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES/IPGP/Imperial College London

Mars Quake Service Catalog

The Mars Quake Service (MQS) team at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zurich began work compiling these marsquake readings and developed a catalog of determinations presented both in the standard Basic Event Description (BED) QuakeML format as well as in a modified variant of QuakeML that uses a Mars-specific extension.4 The first of these catalogs was made available to IRIS in December, 2019, to be shared with the public at the start of the new year. This information was also shared publicly at Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP).5

The IRIS version of the catalog is presented on a tabular web page, which also provides links to the actual QuakeML catalog source material.

Going forward, the catalog will have versioned releases every three months in cadence with newly released data, as provided by ETH. As with the data, the catalog that is publicly available will be about 3 months behind real time. Version ‘2’ of the catalog should be made visible this month (April), one year after the first marsquake was detected. Already, publications and presentations abound in new findings that this instrumentation has revealed to scientists.6,7,8 Surely, there will be many secrets discovered in the coming years.

Coming on the heels of this web page presentation of quake events on Mars, IRIS is developing a mars-event event web service that will allow programmatic access and filtering of the catalog contents for greater flexibility. We have received a lot of help and guidance from ETH as well as IRIS Education and Public Outreach (EPO) in this effort, with welcome funding support from JPL.9 We plan to announce this service on the IRIS web services mailing list soon.10

Citations and References

  1. SEISmometer for the Mars-Mission Insight. Max Planck Institute. (Online)
  2. Benson, R., Trabant,C., Mars InSight mission data from SEIS – Now OPEN to the public. Data Services Newsletter. Vol 21, No 1 (2019).
  3. Voosen, P., First marsquake detected by NASA’s InSight mission. Science. (Online, 2019). doi:10.1126/science.aax7933
  4. ETH InSight Marsquake Service. (2020). Mars Seismic Catalogue, InSight Mission; V1 2/1/2020 [Data set]. ETHZ, IPGP, JPL, ICL, ISAE-Supaero, MPS, Univ. Bristol.
  5. Mars Seismic Catalogues. Seis-Insight EU via IPGP, Paris. (Online)
  6. Nature Geoscience, Vol 13, Issue 3. (2020)
  7. Banerdt, W.B., Smrekar, S.E., Banfield, D. et al. Initial results from the InSight mission on Mars. Nat. Geosci. 13, 183–189 (2020).
  8. P. Labrot. SEIS on Mars: a review following publication of the first results. (Online, 2020).
  9. IRIS Education and Public Outreach InSight Page. (Online)
  10. IRIS Data Services Message Center (webservices mailing list):

by Rob Casey (IRIS Data Management Center) , Rick Benson (IRIS Data Management Center) , Adam Clark (IRIS DMC) and Autumn Johnson (IRIS Data Management Center)

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