What Is A Seismologist?

Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and related phenomena, such as volcanic eruptions. When the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust shift, energy is released in the form of waves, causing earthquakes. These seismic waves, which travel through the Earth’s molten core, can damage structures, distort roads and bridges, and injure living things on the surface. 

What is Seismology?

Seismology is the study of seismic waves, which are energy waves produced by rock breaking apart within the earth or tectonic plates sliding. Seismology also studies seismic waves deliberately induced by controlled explosions, large trucks, and construction equipment, usually to search for underground sources of petroleum and natural gas.

What is Seismology
What is Seismology

What do Seismologists do?

Seismologists are scientists who research earthquakes and its consequences, such as tsunamis and landslides. They could also keep an eye on active volcanoes for earthquakes and other indicators of impending eruptions. They gather and analyze seismic data using seismographs and computer technology.

What do Seismologists do
What do Seismologists do

Most seismologists work in petroleum exploration where they plan, generate, monitor, and analyze controlled seismic waves from explosions and vibrations from trucks. The information collected from the waves’ movement and interactions with underground features help seismologists determine where oil and gas may be found.

They attempt to evaluate future risk and predict future destructive events. Their work helps protect the public through preparation, advisories, seismic zoning, and earthquake engineering. Maps of affected areas provided by seismologists can also help relief efforts after catastrophic events.

Skills required

The overall aim is to interpret the composition and structures of the earth as well as evaluate potential dangers. Seismologist jobs do vary considerably, so it’s very crucial for one to possess these skills below:

  • Analyze and interpret seismic data to categorize different sources – such as the difference between an earthquake and an explosion
  • Use data sets to evaluate hazards
  • Review research and literature relating to current discoveries in the field
  • Provide evaluative reports to governments, engineering companies or other external stakeholders
  • Use computers to model information, gain insight for possible hypotheses and predict trends
Seismology skills
Seismology skills

Become a seismologist

To become a seismologist, you would first earn a bachelor’s degree in geophysics, physics, or geology. Since your bachelor’s degree may be in a related field but not specifically in seismology, gaining an internship before graduating is helpful for the experience. 

Though your stepping stone is a bachelor’s degree, you may find many employers looking for applicants with a master’s degree. If you are looking at a career in advanced research, you will likely need to continue with your doctorate.

Since seismologists use computers to analyze their data, being highly proficient with computer technology is also a must. Conducting fieldwork and getting laboratory experience, such as by using data to create computer simulations of earthquakes, are good ways for prospective seismologists to prepare for a career.

What Is the Average Seismologist salary?

The average annual wage for geoscientists as a whole was about $94,000 in May 2018. Those employed in oil and gas extraction earned the highest salaries. Those working for the federal government made roughly $94,500, and those providing engineering services made $74,000/year.