Career in Seismology and Earthquake Engineering

Seismology ( the word is derived from the Greek Seismos which means earthquake and logos means science ) is the scientific study of earthquakes and the movement of waves through the earth. The field also includes studies of variants such as seaquakes, volcanoes and plate tectonics in general and consequential phenomena such as tsunamis.

An earthquake occurs due to the sudden, sometimes violent movement of the earth’s surface, caused by release of energy in the earth’s crust.

The crust of the earth when subjected to tectonic forces bends slightly. When the stress or pressure exceeds the strength of the rocks, then it breaks and snaps into a new position. Vibrations called seismic waves are thus generated and that travel both within the earth and along its surface. Earthquakes produce different types of seismic waves. These waves travel through rock, and provide an effective way to see events and structures deep inside the earth.

The process of mapping sub – surface features is a speciality, called seismography. Seismic waves are the waves of energy caused by the sudden breaking of rock within the earth or an explosion. They are recorded on Seismographs. Seismic waves produced by explosions have been used to map salt domes and other oil – bearing rocks, faults ( cracks in deep rock ), rock types, and long – buried giant meteor craters.

In India, due to ongoing tectonic activities the hilly tracts of Himalaya are prone to earthquake. The seismic events can cause ground acceleration which in turn can activate mass movement processes, especially in high relief areas of Himalaya, aggravating the slope stability problem.

Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Latur, Bhuj and recently Kashmir – Muzzafarabad Earthquake, devastated the cities, are grim reminders of the severe hazards that may strike any time, anywhere without warning. There is no way of predicting their occurrence. Many of the grim events remain in the memories of men, but soon get lost if not recorded.

Even earthquake has certain lessons to teach, not only to those who are living in the neighbour – hood, but to the very large section of people living in earthquake prone areas to be affected by such disasters. It is, therefore, necessary to record all relevant details of the quake and its effects. A correct record has to be kept of all the observations made and inferences drawn.

The Objectives of Seismology :

As we know that the earthquake is a natural event which sometimes produces disastrous effects, causes great loss to mankind, people who have been suffering in the grip of poverty. To get rid of these problems one must know the natural phenomenon with the technological means of protecting people from harm. Earthquake hazards are related to soil conditions, geological structure and tectonic activity, which must be studied on a regional basis.

In between, the seismologist and the people who need protection from the effects of earthquakes, we find an earthquake engineer, who has the responsibility of ensuring that new structures have the proper degree of resistance to the earthquake hazards of their environment.

His interests unite with those of the seismologist in the estimation of the size and frequency of earthquakes in various parts of the world, and with architects, planners and insurance companies at the other end of the scale. In view of the essential continuity of interest until quite recently, it is a remarkable fact that interaction between the major groups remained at a comparatively low level.

Interestingly, the situation is now improving, and numerous meetings are now taking place with the object of improving the understanding of the overall problem. The Report of the Intergovernmental Meeting on the Assessment and Mitigation of Earthquake Risk ( UNESCO, 1976 ) makes an important contribution in this respect.

How Do I Become A Seismologist?

Research seismologists come into the field with a wide variety of undergraduate majors. Only a few universities offer undergraduate degrees in geophysics, of which seismology is a part. Because seismology is an applied field, most graduate departments prefer students to have solid under – graduate training in more basic disciplines, particularly mathe – matics or physics. Course work in basic geology is also very helpful.

The computer is the primary tool of the trade for most research seismologists, so a high degree of computer expertise is essential. Preparation for a research career in this field whether in a university, private industry, or with the government, requires the completion of a Ph.D. Degree. However, rewarding careers in observational and operational seismology, especially in the petroleum industry, are open to a Bachelor degree holder.

Many have found that a Master of Science degree in geophysics, providing a year or two of advanced specialized study before beginning an industrial career, is a valuable asset. A student’s choice of undergraduate major and Graduate School Program should be geared to particular interests within the field.  A great deal of information is now available via the World Wide Web ( www ), including general information ( see links below ) as well as information about specific university departments.

Undergraduate students who are interested to pursue a graduate degree in seismology are also encouraged. In many cases, professors will be aware of opportunities such as undergraduate internships that can provide invaluable experience and training.

Institutes offering Courses :

S.NoDepartmentNo. of seatsDurationEligibility
1.General Medicine23 yearsM.B.B.S and CET pass
2.Obstetrics & Gynaecology23 yearsM.B.B.S and CET pass
3.Paediatrics23 yearsM.B.B.S and CET pass
4.Anaesthesiology23 yearsM.B.B.S and CET pass
5.Radiotherapy13 yearsM.B.B.S and CET pass

Eligibility for Seismology and Earthquake Engineering :

The Seismology and Earthquake Engineering course come from combined Geography and Physics. Geophysics as a field is in high demand in several areas like Oil explorations and ground water. Since it is a very much a scientific field, anyone who desires to become a seismologist has to have the basic background in science ( PCM ) right from Class XI onwards. Admission is given as per merit test of candidates ( written test followed by interview ). Later, all those having a Degree in Geology, Geophysics, Physics or Applied Science can opt for a specialization in Seismology.

There are several universities and institutions across the country offering an M. Tech Course in Geophysics, which covers Seismology. Considering the vast application of Seismology in Structural Engineering, students having a basic degree in engineering are also specializing in the study of earthquakes and their effects.

Seismology is a young science. Although people have been interested in earthquakes for hundreds of years, the roots of modern seismology date back only about 100 years to the development of the first instruments capable of recording earthquake ( seismic ) waves. The scientists who developed the first seismometers were initially interested in studying earthquakes. During the twentieth century the scope of seismology broadened to include the investigation of the Earth’s interior using waves from earthquakes as well as other sources.

Modern seismology has become a multifaceted discipline that focuses on issues of both scientific and societal concern. Investigation of earthquakes as a physical process has yielded many important insights about the phenomenon. However, many very fundamental questions about earthquakes remain unanswered : How do earthquakes start? What controls their timing? How do they stop?

Although most seismologists are pessimistic about the possibility of predicting earthquakes, a better understanding of fundamental processes ( “Earthquake Physics” ) will allow us to improve our assessment of earthquake hazard. The science deals with study of earthquakes and broadly comes under geology or geophysical science. A seismologist’s job is to locate the source the nature and size of seismic events for the use of various agencies.

The Seismology and Earthquake Engineering is a multidisciplinary field comprising Earthquake scientists as well as technicians and professionals, specializing in Computers, Physics Electronics, Telecommunications and Civil and Structural Engineering. Besides these recent opportunities for seismologists in the process of microzoning, where government agencies will collaborate with a large number of private agencies for providing information about various components, there is a vast scope for professionals in petroleum exploration as well.

Of course, research opportunities are always available in the government organizations / agencies, industry or universities. However, there are ample opportunities if one decides to go in or research, both in the government as well as the private sector.

There are central governments institutions like National Geophysical Research Institute ( NGRI ), Hyderabad, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation ( ONGC ), Weather Forecasting Department, Geological Survey of India ( GSI ) advertise for the post of Earthquake Scientist, Geologist, Scientific Assistant etc.

Overseas Organization / Agencies where Seismologist Can Start their Career :

  • U.S. Geological Survey ( http://www.usgs.gov/ ).
  • Comprehensive Test – Ban Treaty Organization ( http://www.ctbto.org/ ).
  • Society of Petroleum Engineers ( http://www.spe.org/ ).
  • American Geological Institute ( http://www.agiweb.org/ ).
  • American Geophysical Union ( http://www.agu.org/ ).
  • Geological Society of America ( http://www.geosociety.org/ ).

2 thoughts on “Career in Seismology and Earthquake Engineering

  1. sir currently I m working L&T construction . I have applied for Mtech in earthquake engineering through GATE . Kindly guide me through about the scope of Earthquake engineering in India and abroad after pursuing this course .

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