Thursday, April 21, 2011

'How-to' guide will boost seismic networks in Africa

A group of US academic institutions is putting together the first guide to setting up sustainable seismological monitoring centres in developing countries. The guide will, for example, speed up the creation of a pan-African network of earth science monitoring stations. The document is being put together by Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology — a US-based academic consortium that supports open access to seismic data.Seismic data is important for predicting and monitoring events like earthquakes, and also important to the oil, mining and construction industries of developing countries. "The main constraints are expertise and money, Nyblade, one of the AfricaArray's co-directors, said. In Zambia, a donor-funded seismic network created in the 1980s failed when the funding ran out — and the country had neither the resources nor the know-how to maintain it. The AfricaArray comprises 40 stations in 15 countries. The stations collect seismic data and by the end of the year, 20 of them will also record weather and global positioning system (GPS) data that could monitor groundwater levels and collect atmospheric data needed for climate models. However, Africa's seismology monitoring capacity is still very weak compared with the developed world, and the network has few stations in West Africa, and hardly any in central parts of the continent.

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