Seismology Bibliography and Book Review

Updated: 09/20/2012

Seismology Bibliography

Perhaps this bibliography will be of some help to those getting started in seismology. 

Doyle, HA, "Seismology", 1996

Howell, B "Intro. to Geophysics", McGraw 1959

LaCoste, LJB "A Simplification in the Cond. for the Zero-Length-Spring Seismograph", Bull. SSA 1935, pp 176-179 a seminal paper-the theory of using a zero-length spring for vertical seismometers.

Pritchett, WC "Acquiring Better Seismic Data", 1898 Chapman&Hall req. lib. for oil prospectors, not very interesting.

Agnew, DC "Strainmeters and Tiltmeters", Rev. of Geophysics, vol 24, no 3, pp 579-624, Aug 1986 a masterful long review paper, very informative, large biblio. (acknowledges help from ST Morrissey)

Roberts, PM "A Versatile Equiliz. Ckt. for Increas. Seismometer Vel. Response Below the Nat. Freq." (for 4.5Hz geophones) BSSA vol 79, #4, Oct 1989. looks good, haven't tried it.

Roberts, BSSA, vol 79, no 4, pp 1607-1617 Oct. 1989

Miller, WF, Geller, RJ & Stein, S, "Use of a bubble tiltmeter as a horizontal seismometer", Geophys. J. R. Astro. Soc. 1978, vol 54, pp 661-668 shows seismograms with identical results from a Rockwell (Part No. 67380-301 biaxial) bubble tiltmeter and a long period seismom. Used Mod. 124 Parr lock-in amp. at 5 kHz

Sheriff, R.E., "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Exploration Geophysics"

Berlin, Gebruder & Borntoeger "Seismic Prospecting Instruments (the Doodlebugger's bible)"

Kulhanek. O. "Anatomy of Seismograms" 1990 Elsevier. "An attractive and clearly presented manual of characteristic earthquake records and clues to their interpretation." Bolt. not too great.

Bullen, KE "An Introduction to the Theory of Seismology", 3rd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, 1963 obsolete text-book.

Lay, Thorne & Wallace, Terry C., "Modern Global Seismology", Academic Press, 1995 $57, a modern text-book. very good, bought it

Bolt, Bruce "Earthquakes & Geological Discovery", Sci. Am. Library, 1993. The very best!!

Weilandt, E. & Streckeisen G. "The Leaf-Spring Seismometer:Design & Performance", Bull. Seis. Soc. Am. vol 72, no 6, pp2349-2367, Dec. 1982 Great!

Stong, CL The Amateur Scientist, Sci. Am. mag., Nov. 1973 pp 124-129 "The mercury tiltmeter."

Stong, CL The Amateur Scientist, Sci. Am. mag., Sept 1975 pp 182-188 "The Shackleford-Gundersen Sensor"

Walker, Jerl The Amateur Scientist, Sci. Am. mag., July 1979 pp 152-161 "The Lehman"

Kroll, R "Construction Modifications of the Lehman Seismograph" , J. Geological Edu., v 35 pp 124-125 1987 trivial

Aki, K & Richards, PG "Quantitative Seismology, Theory & Methods" Freeman & Co. vols 1 & 2, 1980 great stuff on seismometers in vol 1.

J. Phys. E:Sci. Instruments 1977 Ovulate 10 "A wide-band miniature horiz. force-feedback seismometer"

Usher M.J. & Guralp, C Geophys. J. of the Royal Astro. Soc 1978(55) pp605-613 "Design of min. wideband seismometers".

Gile, WW, Geophys. J. Roy. Astro. Soc. vol 36 1974 pp 153-165 "A Mercury Pendulum Seismometer" very good but a bit too large for amateurs.

Riedesel, M. A., Moore, R. D. & Orcutt, J. A., 1990. Limits of sensitivity of inertial seismometers with velocity trans ducers and electronic amplifiers, BSSA, 80(6), pp 1725 - 1752.

"The Solid Earth-An Intro. to Global Geophysics", CMR Fowler, Cambridge U. Press reprinted 1992 hard & soft. not great, no help with seismometers or magnetometers.

Applied Geophysics 2nd ed, 1990 Telford, Geldart & Sheriff, Cambridge U. Press, got from lib., quite good, anal. of gravimeters-pendulum, torsion bal., microbalances, LaCoste-Romberg, & Worden. Good on hardware as well as many other topics.

Bath, M "Intro. to Seismology", John Wiley 1980

Advances in Geophysics, Supplement 2, "Principles and Applications of Microearthquake Networks", W.H.K. Lee and S.W. Stewart, 1981. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-018862-7. (comment: the book for microearthquake network operators!).

Charles F. Richter "Elementary Seismology" W.H. Freeman & Company 1958

Ruth B. Simon "Earthquake Interpretations, A manual for reading seismograms", William Kaufmann Inc. 1981

G.A Eiby "Earthquakes", Van Nostrand Reinhold Company 1980

A Refsum "Tiltmeter Electronics and Wireless World" March 1988 P 264-265. This article is on the construction of a mercury tiltmeter. It has some equations to let you calcuate the period, damping factor etc.

R V Jones and J C S Richards,  "The design and some applications of sensitive capacitance micrometers". 1973 J. Phys. E: Sci. Instrum. 6  pp 589-600

LaCoste, L. J. B., 1934. "A new type long  period seismograph", Physics, 5, 178-180.

Robert G Daniel "An Intermediate-Period Field System using a Short-Period Seismometer"  BSSA, Vol 69, No 5, pp 1623-1626, Oct 1979

Book Reviews:

On 6/9/99 Bob Laney wrote:

Earlier this year Sean-Thomas Morrissey (March 12, 1999) and John Hernlund (March 15, 1999) pointed out 4 publications on interpreting seismograms. I don't recall follow-up description or discussion of these publications or how that they might be useful to amateurs interested in intrepreting seismograms.

This afternoon I spent a few hours in the USGS library in Reston, VA examining these publications, which are:

1) Anatomy of Seismograms by Ota Kulhanek Elsevier Science Publishing Company Inc., 1990 655, Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10010 ISBN 0-444-88375-4 $142 at

2) Principles Underlying the Interpretation of Seismograms by Frank Neumann U.S. Department of Commerce Special Publication 254, 1951 (out of print, but a 1966 revision may be available according to the email from Sean Thomas)

3) Earthquake Interpretations-A Manual for Reading Seismograms by Ruth B. Simon William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981 Los Altos, CA ISBN 0-913232-81-5 Out of print, but one could do a used book search on or other companies.

4) Broad Band Seismic Data Analysis by J.A. Carter Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, U.S. Neclear Regulatory Commission, 1987 Series NUREG/CR; 4822 Not sure about availability.

I did not read these publications from cover to cover, but I spent a good part of the afternoon looking at tables of content, reading the purposes of the publications and flipping through the pages looking at illustrations.Therefore, my comments that follow are not "book reviews," but rather are observations of an amateur interested in learning more about interpretation of those squiggly lines we see on our event records, and which of the publications I might like to have in my library.


Of the four publications this was the "pick of the litter." It was written for the IASPEI/Unesco Working Group on the Manual of Seismogram Interpretation (I looked in appropriate places in the publication and IASPEI was never defined). The purpose of the report is to present a comprehensive and tutorial manual for deciphering available seismograms.." The report is aimed at students in seismology, amateurs as well as more experienced persons. It has virtually no mathematics, is easy to read, has attractive illustrations and many examples of seismograms with phases identified. The introductory text consists of Earthquakes Why and Where They Occur, Structure of the Earth's Interior, Seismic Waves, Travel Times, and Seismographs and Seismological Observatories. The remainder of the report consists of interpretation of 55 plates showing various types events with phases identified. If I were to pick one of the four, this would be the one. The only problem with this one is the cost--$142.


This report is designed for the interpretation of earthquake seismograms "to satisfy the requirements of a seismograph station director, the student who is beginning his career as seismologist, or the amateur seismologist." The report has good information in it, but its appearance comes across as a dry 1950ish text book as compared to Anatomy of Seismograms, which by comparison is "brighter" and easier to read. The report covers the necessary background to understand seismographs and has 17 figures containing seismograms. A number of the figures are fold-out type or in a pocket in back. If this report were still in print, it would be good have in one's library.


The author's purpose in this report is "to help students interpret seismograms, knowing that every wiggle on the records can eventually be understood and explained." Of the report's 150 pages, 19 pages are introductory information and procedures for beginners to interpret seismograms. The remaining pages contain 45 seismograms, with phases identified, and seismographs tables. Like the second report, this would be good to have in the library.


This report describes the 3-component broad band digital seismic station SRNY in Stone Ridge, New York. This is more an analysis of station performance than a helpful guide to seismograph interpretation. But, it does have a number of interpreted seismograms from the station. This one probably would not be on my buy list.

I am under no illusion that just reading these reports would automatically make anyone an expert seismic interpreter. But my casual review of the reports makes me want to go back and read them in more detail to get a better understanding of "what the wiggles mean."

Bob Laney Herndon, VA

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