Earthquake monitoring and research at IPE

Why do we study earthquakes in the Czech Republic?

Earthquakes are one of the main sources of information on crustal deformation taking place today. Records of historical and prehistoric earthquakes suggest that even slow deformation within fore-alpine Europe can lead to stronger earthquakes during very long seismic "cycles", i.e. with large recurrence periods. In our country, too, therefore, earthquakes are natural hazards that need to be studied and taken into account in certain areas of society. In addition, seismic waves can be used to study the structure of the Earth or to monitor nuclear tests.

What earthquakes are we monitoring?

With the help of more than twenty of our own permanent stations in the country, we record seismic phenomena of near and very distant origin and, with the help of records from other stations, evaluate them at different levels of detail, given the requirements of several different objectives:

On a regional scale, we are primarily trying to capture seismic activity in the Czech Republic and nearby parts of Central Europe so that we are able to produce the most complete bulletins and catalogues of seismic events with magnitudes M>0.5 for this region. To do this, we also make use of records from several dozen other stations in the region and work closely with partner agencies in the region as part of the seismological service (see below).

On a local scale, we also monitor very weak earthquakes (often with negative magnitudes) and try to understand and explain their causes in the context of local geodynamic processes. In this way, we monitor in detail the vicinity of the two Czech nuclear power plants and the northeastern Czech Republic. For these purposes, we maintain and develop local networks of seismic stations.

On a global scale, we study earthquakes primarily for the purpose of verifying compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and as a contribution to the compilation of the ISC global earthquake database.

Seismological Service

The Seismological Service primarily provides monitoring and basic analysis of seismic events in the country. It also processes information on registered earthquakes worldwide and supports international data exchange. It is operated in cooperation with the Institute of Geophysics CAS in Prague.

The seismological service includes:
- operation and development of monitoring infrastructure in the Czech Republic, archiving and sharing seismic records with partner institutions and the seismological community
- basic analysis of seismic records - identification of all registered seismic phases and events, location of seismic events in the Czech Republic and its surroundings, creation of bulletins and catalogues of seismic events in the Czech Republic and their sharing with partner institutions and the seismological community
- collection and evaluation of macroseismic data
- informing the public about important seismic events with emphasis on earthquakes with focal or macroseismic manifestations in the Czech Republic

The basic element of the monitoring infrastructure is the Czech Regional Seismic Network, which is co-operated by several partner institutions in the Czech Republic.

Data processing in IPE:
IPE processes records from all stations of the Czech Regional Seismic Network, short-period IPE stations and several dozen stations of neighbouring countries. We analyse all well-registered seismic events (near and distant earthquakes, blasting, rockbursts). We focus on seismic events with a focus in the Czech Republic and its vicinity, especially natural earthquakes. We cooperate with partner institutions and use their bulletins and catalogues for our work (especially EMSC, USGS, GFÚ, ZAMG, SAV, ÚGN, GreenGas, etc.). All analyses are carried out with the assistance of seismologists and the data in bulletins and catalogues can be guaranteed.

Research focus

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