Seismic Interpretation Practical

photo of rock formation

This practical from The University of Edinburgh’s ‘Introduction to Geophysics’ by Prof. Ian Main and Prof. Anya Reading, demonstrates the techniques used to acquire data for a refraction exercise using a hammer and baseplate as a seismic source.


Practical 2 includes a description of the method, along with key equations you will need in the interpretation exercise in an appendix.

In this exercise, it is intended that students should achieve the following

(i)        Gain familiarity with the operation of a 12-channel signal enhancement seismograph with a sledge hammer seismic source, as used for small-scale seismic surveys.

(ii)       Carry out a reversed seismic refraction survey as a group exercise

  • Identify the general characteristics of wave propagation as expressed on a seismogram at different distances from the source.

Click here to download the Seismic Demonstration Handout (79KB)

Practical 2L provides guidance and an assessment task providing a seismic refraction interpretation.

Click here to download the Seismic Interpretation Handout (1.6MB)

About Ian Main FRSE, Professor of Seismology and Rock Physics, University of Edinburgh

Ian’s teaching responsibilities include pre-honours courses in ‘Earth Dynamics’ and ‘Introduction to Geophysics’, and an honours course in ‘Natural Hazard and Risk’, as course organiser.

Research: Ian is interested in the processes that lead up to catastrophic failure events, from earthquakes, rock fracture, and volcanic eruptions to failure of building materials and bridges, and in quantifying the resulting hazard. He is particularly interested in the population dynamics of localised brittle failure as a complex, non-linear (unreasonable) system, as well as fluid-rock interactions and fluid flow involving fractures in the subsurface.

About Anya M Reading, Professor of Geophysics, School of Natural Sciences (Physics) – University of Tasmania

Anya studied astrophysics and geophysics for her undergraduate/Honours degrees at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She quickly adopted computational techniques as part of the toolbox that she carries through her scientific research life. A PhD from the University of Leeds, researching earthquakes at the plate boundary beneath New Zealand, and a mixed technical/research role with British Antarctic Survey added remote area data collection to that toolbox.

Anya Reading came to Australia in 2000 to take up a research fellowship at ANU, moving to UTAS in 2007. She leads research which pioneers recording geophysical data in remote or challenging locations such as Antarctica, outback Australia and the Bass Strait Islands.





Header image: Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels