Data Services Newsletter

Volume 9 : No 4 : December 2007

IRIS DMS Conducts Metadata Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Photo of Petronas Tower 1 and 2
Figure 1: Petronas Tower 1 & 2, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

During the week of October 21-26, 2007, network operators from 19 Southeast Asian countries met to exchange ideas and learn how to effectively manage seismic waveform data and metadata. Primary goals of this workshop were to increase collaboration, and encourage open exchange and access of data both regionally and within the international community. This effort is led by IRIS and it’s partners in the International Federation of Digital Seismograph Networks (FDSN) since the 1980’s. The workshop was co-sponsored by the IRIS DMS, The Malaysian Meteorological Department, JAMSTEC/IFREE, and IASPEI. The workshop was in large part funded by the National Science Foundation through the IRIS Data Management System.

This was the third in a series of workshops aimed at disseminating the experience and expertise in seismological data management to network operators, both in developed as well as developing countries. The workshop provides training in the fundamentals of seismic instrumentation, network operation and data management. Included in the program are topics such as application of advanced data management systems, education on the fundamentals of modern seismometry, and a short introduction to modern methods of analysis possible with current instrumentation, software tools, and databases. Participants came away with much of the necessary knowledge to set up and maintain their own data center and to link their network to the growing global network for data access.

IASPEI Logo
Figure 2: IASPEI Logo

Logistics for the workshop were arranged by Mari Francissen (IRIS DMS) and local logistics by Ms. Irene Eu Swee Neo (Malaysian Meteorological Department).

The focus of this workshop was on networks from Southeast Asian countries. In order to keep the workshop efficient and effective, only a limited number of participants were admitted, with limitations on the number of participants from a single institution. As anticipated, there was broad, worldwide interest. A selection had to be made from applicants in the preliminary round of registration. In this selection process, the consideration was focused on seismic network operators or prospective network operators. In 2008 the IRIS DMS plans to organize a similar workshop, possibly in the Middle East or Africa.

During the workshop, many details related to operating broadband seismic sensors were discussed. These included a review of best practices for sensor hardware and site selection, installation, and communication options, all focused on how to avoid noisy or unstable configurations. By showing real-world examples, participants learned to eliminate many problems early, and therefore improve data quality at the source.

We were very fortunate to have again the participation of a group of world-class lecturers. Göran Ekström from Columbia University, Reinoud Sleeman from ORFEUS, Joachim Wasserman from the University of München, and Erhard Wielandt from Stuttgart University. From ISTI Sidney Hellman was present. The IRIS DMS was represented by Tim Ahern, Rick Benson and Mari Francissen.

Kuala Lumpur tower by night
Figure 3: Kuala Lumpur Tower by night

Jim Fowler and Bruce Beaudoin from IRIS PASSCAL presented a very informative and well-received lecture on site selection for broadband instrumentation. The Program included lectures on the various aspects of seismometry, modern digitizers, digital filtering, quality control of seismic data, and an introduction to the Portable Data Collection Center (PDCC), an application that allows networks to manage their metadata. Erhard Weilandt gave lectures on seismometry, measurement of noise and seismometer calibration. Reinoud Sleeman gave lectures on digitizers, quality control of seismic data and a variety of concepts related to the SEED data format. Joachim Wasserman’s lectures focused on theoretical digital filter theory as well as practical computer lab exercises. Göran Ekström gave lectures on the use of broadband seismic data in the Global Moment Tensor determination, and noise and quality control of seismic data. In addition Göran Ekström addressed new scientific discoveries that are found in continuously recorded seismic data. Rick Benson and Sid Hellman gave lectures on PDCC and DIG-IT, Quality Control procedures and a variety of useful utilities for manipulating data. Computer labs were also an inherent part of the material presented in several portions of the workshop including the PDCC and DIG-IT portions.

Additionally, attention was given to how information is stored in the SEED format. Before going to the hands-on computer labs, an overview was presented to show how to use publicly available software for creating, verifying, and evaluating data. Every network operator can use these tools to create and maintain the time-series data. They will aid in creating a robust and accurate library of true ground motion at every site.

Another key aspect of the success of the workshop was that time was allotted for networks from Southeast Asia to give a brief presentation about their networks. During the workshop we heard presentations from networks in each country. This helped workshop participants understand other seismological effort taking place in Southeast Asia.

Of course the workshop participants also had time to enjoy social events organized by our local hosts at the Malaysian Meteorological Department. The group held an Official Welcome Dinner on Sunday October 22, 2007 as well as a Social Event on Wednesday October 25, 2007 at the Kuala Lumpur Tower in Kuala Lumpur. The camaraderie continued during the buffet-style banquet. Several of us even ventured to try the durian fruit pudding and ice cream. With approximately 50 participants and hosts attending, it was a lively and fun event and the food was excellent.

IRIS extends its thanks to the local organizers at the Malaysian Meteorological Department and special thanks to Dr. Mohd. Rosaidi bin Che Abas, Dr. Yap Kok Seng and Ms. Irene Eu Swee Neo for all of their work and effort that made the workshop a great success.

Malaysia Meeting Group Photo
Figure 4: Metadata workshop participants

More information about the workshop is available at:

by Mari Francissen (IRIS Data Management Center)

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