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INL Seismic Monitoring Capabilities

The INL Seismic Monitoring Program maintains and operates 27 seismic stations, 13 Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, and 32 strong-motion accelerographs. Maintenance and operations are performed by two seismologists and two technicians.

Seismic stations are located within and around INL near potential earthquake sources that include major range-bounding normal faults and volcanic rift zones. Earthquake data collected at seismic stations are used to determine locations, magnitudes, depths, fault dimensions, faulting styles, and stress parameters. This information is compiled to develop an historical database that characterizes seismically active zones and the frequency of earthquake activity within those zones.

GPS receivers are co-located at seismic stations within the Snake River Plain and the surrounding basin and range (or valleys and mountains). GPS data are used to determine the rates and types of deformation of the earth’s crust. These data help identify active regions of more frequently damaging earthquakes (such as Yellowstone) relative to less active ones (such as the Snake River Plain).

Strong-motion accelerographs are located within INL facilities, at independent free-field sites (not within buildings), and at free-field sites co-located with seismic stations. In the event of a large magnitude earthquake, acceleration data are used to determine the levels of earthquake ground shaking and responses of buildings to ground shaking at INL. Additionally, acceleration data recorded at strong-motion accelerographs co-located with INL seismic stations are used to assess attenuation effects of small to large magnitude normal faulting earthquakes.

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Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office