March 16, 1999
Contact: Chris Curran


Cincinnati -- The UC geology department will serve as the southwest Ohio representative in Ohio's new computerized seismic monitoring network known as OhioSeis.

Attila Kilinc, department head in geology and a researcher who studies earthquakes and volcanoes, said the computerized seismograph will be sensitive enough to detect all earthquakes in the world above 6.0 on the Richter scale in addition to recording smaller quakes around Ohio and the Tristate region.

The new seismic network was a dream-come-true for Kilinc who has tried for several years to develop funding for seismic monitoring equipment.

You should be receiving a separate news release this week from the Ohio Geological Survey announcing the establishment of the network. To help accommodate reporters, photographers and videographers during the crush of finals week here at UC, the geology department has set aside time from 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday, March 17th, to see the UC station in action and interview Professor Kilinc, the station's director.

Basic facts about the network:

  • Each station only cost about $5,500. Ten years ago, the cost would have been ten times higher.

  • The equipment was designed by Larry J. Ruff of the University of Michigan.

  • The University of Cincinnati seismic station has already recorded significant quakes (over magnitude 6.0) from sites as far away as the Fuji Islands and Kamchatka, a Russian peninsula which borders the Bering Sea.

  • There are three parts to the UC system: a rooftop antenna picks up signals from GPS (global positioning system) satellites to record the precise time, a ground-level seismometer records the Earth's movements, and a computer records the data for later analysis. All three components are in the Geology-Physics building.

  • Internet connections allow researchers to share data within Ohio and nationwide. Each station was assigned its own unique Internet address, but special software is needed to access the data.

  • Seismograph data is recorded digitally instead of the old pen-and-graph paper method. That allows fast comparisons of data on an hourly, daily, or even monthly basis.

    Ohio's earthquake history:
  • Ohio has had more than 120 earthquakes since 1776. More than a dozen were strong enough to cause significant damage and shaking.

  • The largest Ohio-centered earthquake was in Shelby County in 1937 with a magnitude estimated at 5.5.

  • Southern Ohio has experienced more than 30 earthquakes.

  • The Tristate region is also at risk from faults in Kentucky, Indiana, and even the New Madrid region of Missouri.

  • Eastern United States earthquakes can have more wide- ranging effects because there are fewer faults to dissipate the shaking.

    How the UC system works:
    The seismograph detects waves generated by an earthquake. The primary waves arrive first. They're very fast, but not very high in amplitude. The secondary waves are recorded as sharp spikes with much greater amplitude. Geologists can estimate the distance to the quake's epicenter by comparing the time between the arrival of the primary and secondary waves. However, it takes at least three recording stations to pinpoint the epicenter.

    Why the network was needed:
    There has been no widespread seismic monitoring in Ohio for over five years. Understanding Ohio's true earthquake risk will help planners design buildings, bridges, and other structures to minimize death and destruction during quakes.

    Future improvements:
    The current seismometers can record ground shaking in only direction (up and down). Upgrades would allow the stations to also record east-west and north-south ground movements.

    Educational opportunities:
    In addition to expanding research opportunities, the network will also provide data for students to analyze in geology courses at UC.

    Funding sources:
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency provided funding with coordination by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological Survey.

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