The perturbations that occur within the interior of the Earth, which is in a constant state of movement, resulting in the release of energy in packets known as wave seismic . The area of geophysics known as seismology is the study of these waves and their effects , which can often be devastating when manifested in the form of earthquakes. The latter not only take human lives and destroy buildings, but also produce secondary effects, most often in the form of tsunamis or tidal waves. Using seismographs and seismometers, seismologists study earthquakes and other seismic phenomena, including volcanoes and even explosions resulting from nuclear tests . They measure earthquakes according to their magnitude or energy, as well as their intensity or human impact.


What is seismology?

Seismology is the branch of geophysics that is responsible for studying earthquakes that occur on earth, mainly through the study of the different seismic waves that are produced when energy is released during the earthquake.

  • What seismology studies
  • History
  • What is seismology for
  • Importance
  • Featured seismologists
  • Seismology in the world

What seismology studies

Earthquakes occur when faults collide or magma splits in the crust. When earthquakes happen they send seismic waves through the Earth. The seismographs are the instruments used to record seismology seismic waves. They contain a weight and a pen attached to a spring. The seismograph is bolted to the ground, so during an earthquake it moves with the ground, while the weight and boom remain still. The pen moves through a rotating roll of paper that records seismic waves. This is known as a seismogram and is used to understand earthquakes.


During an earthquake, seismic waves arrive first at the closest seismograph and later at the farthest ones. This information is used to locate the earthquake. In this way, by means of seismology, the tremors produced by the displacements of the plates can be evaluated and allows to study the propagation of the waves .

Thanks to seismology, earthquakes began to be classified according to their magnitude using the Richter scale and the Mercalli scale . There are in many countries worldwide, organizations and institutions that are dedicated to the study of seismology to record all kinds of information, analyze it , store it and carry out studies on this type of movement.


Seismology dates back to ancient times. The first speculations about earthquakes were made by Thales of Miletus , Aristotle and Zhang Heng who designed the first seismograph in 132 BC There were many theories regarding the origin of earthquakes, from the movement of fire within the earth to a series of explosions inside her. In the year 1761, John Michell determined that earthquakes were waves of movement caused by rocks moving thousands of kilometers below the ground. Robert Mallet, in 1857 founded instrumental seismology and in 1906, Richard Dixonidentified and separated P waves and S waves in seismograms.

What is seismology for

Seismology helps us to make studies regarding the earthquakes that happen on the earth. It is a science created to observe the different vibrations that occur naturally in the earth and has been useful in terms of understanding how tectonic plates work , the internal structure that the earth has, understanding and the origin of the earthquakes and the way the earth releases energy .


Seismology is important because it helps experts to carry out studies on the movements of the earth, on tectonic plates and on the possible damages that an earthquake or earthquake could generate. In addition, seismology helps to understand the continental slopes that can also cause earthquakes. It is a science that allows the study of artificial earthquakes produced by industrial activities. And finally, it helps to study the subsoil of a country and determine how the earth’s crust is formed .

Featured seismologists

Some of the most prominent seismologists worldwide are:

  • The seismologist from the University of Chile , Armando Cisternas .
  • Beno Gutenberg , German who managed to define the diameter of the earth. Collaborator in the development of the Richter scale.
  • Hiroo kanamori
  • Giuseppe Mercalli
  • John milne

Seismology in the world

There are different institutes that are responsible for informing the inhabitants of the world about earthquakes or earthquakes that occur during the day. Among the most important we can mention the seismic hazard program of the USGS , the OVSICORI in Costa Rica, the National Seismological Service of Mexico .

Seismology by country

  • Chile : It is a country with a high seismicity, the majority of great intensity. This happens because they are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire . They have the National Seismological Center of the University of Chile . They are in charge of giving technical reports daily on the earthquakes that occur in the country. They give data on the epicenters, hypocenters, time and magnitude of these.
  • Colombia : Although it is not a very seismic country, the Colombian geological service is the one in charge of giving the news about the earthquakes that occur in the country. They provide an information service on seismic , volcanic and geoscientific activity in the country.
  • Japan : It is the country where more earthquakes and earthquakes occur worldwide. It is located under the Pacific ring of fire . They have the Japan meteorological agency that issues advice and warnings. Alerts the population several seconds before an earthquake occurs.

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