EPOS Seismology: the Common, Open House of Pan-European Seismological Services

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The EPOS Seismology Consortium Assembly and Community

The EPOS Newsletter
Special issue 04
2019 | Article 03

ORFEUS integrated services at a glance
Overview of EMSC system and services
Integration of European seismic hazard map in the EPOS ICS platform

ORFEUS integrated services at a glance

Overview of EMSC system and services

Integration of European seismic hazard map in the EPOS ICS platform


Theoretical, observational, computational, applied, engineering, exploration, citizen-based, environmental, planetary: this is only a short, incomplete selection of terms often associated with “seismology”. In essence, a remarkably diverse, complex and interdisciplinary domain, where Pan-European researchers and research infrastructures have always been at the forefront in the development of science and services for scientists.

Acknowledging and building on this complexity and legacy, EPOS Seismology provides a collaborative, community-driven approach to seismological service development, that largely relies on already established institutions at European level. These organizations are built on membership of national academic / research institutions working in the broad domain of seismology, as well as relevant governmental agencies. These national infrastructures (see e.g.,;;; are the main providers of data and services to EPOS Seismology.

The current organization of EPOS Seismology into specific subdomains reflects the historic development and current scope of the European seismological institutions and the data processing chain, with access to waveform data and associated services being coordinated within ORFEUS, seismological products within the context of the EMSC together with the historical earthquake information archive AHEAD, and seismic hazard and risk information handled by the EFEHR consortium. The three subdomains, often referred to as “the Pillars” of EPOS Seismology, signed a Consortium Agreement on 10th October 2019, which will allow interacting effectively with the EPOS ERIC and jointly coordinating and harmonizing services and activities, and planning the required resources. Each of the subdomains has its own internal governance structure (e.g.,;, and organizes the provision of its specific contributions to EPOS Seismology.

EPOS Preparatory Phase (PP) and Implementation Phase (IP) projects provided the opportunity to establish the EPOS Seismology collaborative framework and to improve and extend the existing services, targeting technical, organizational and financial integration with the EPOS architecture. At the end of the EPOS IP project a broad range of EPOS Seismology services are fully functional (Table 1) and most are integrated in the EPOS Integrated Core Services (ICS) data access infrastructure using state-of-the-art web services, as described in the following sections. The integration of EPOS Seismology services with the ICS will continue in the coming years and will require careful checks through formalized acceptance steps on both sides.

Table 1: operational services of EPOS Seismology

ORFEUS, the subdomain of waveform services

ORFEUS (Observatories and Research Facilities for European Seismology) is a collaborative, non-profit foundation that promotes seismology in the Euro-Mediterranean area through the collection, archival and distribution of digital seismic waveform data, metadata and derived products. The data and services are collected or developed at the national level by more than 60 contributing institutions in Pan-Europe and further developed, integrated, standardized, homogenized and promoted through ORFEUS. Among the goals of ORFEUS are: (a) the development and coordination of waveform data products; (b) the coordination of a European data distribution system, and the support for seismic networks in archiving and exchanging digital seismic waveform data; (c) the encouragement of the adoption of best practices for seismic network operation, data quality control and data management; (d) the promotion of open access to seismic waveform data, products and services for the broader Earth science community.  These goals are achieved through the development and maintenance of services targeted to a broad community of seismological data users. Two Service Management Committees (SMCs) are established within ORFEUS devoted to managing, operating and developing (with the support of one or more Infrastructure Development Groups): (i) the European Integrated waveform Data Archive (EIDA); and (ii) the European Strong-Motion databases (SM). The establishment of two additional SMCs is being explored to represent the computational seismology and mobile pools (including OBS) communities within ORFEUS. Access to ORFEUS EIDA and SM products is ensured through state-of-the-art information and communications technologies, with strong emphasis on federated web services that considerably improve seamless user access to data gathered and/or distributed by ORFEUS institutions. The web services also facilitate the automation of downstream products. Particular attention is paid to adopting clear data policies and licences, and to acknowledging the crucial role played by data providers / owners, who are part of the ORFEUS community.  The products and services delivered by ORFEUS are assessed and improved through the technical and scientific feedback of a User Advisory Group (UAG), comprised of European Earth scientists with expertise encompassing a broad range of disciplines. All ORFEUS services are developed in coordination with EPOS and are EPOS compliant. All FDSN EIDA services are integrated with the ICS. The ESM ShakeMap input service is integrated with the ICS. A synoptic view of all ORFEUS services and data is shown in Figure 1.

EMSC & AHEAD, the subdomain of seismological products services

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) is a key actor for global earthquake information. All activities are closely coordinated by EMSC members (81 institutes and observatories in 56 countries) as well as by the US Geological Survey and the International Association for Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior (IASPEI). EMSC is involved in the seismological community, in earthquake communication for the general public and, in scientific European research projects. EMSC is also one of the pillars of the seismological services within the EPOS project. EMSC aims to collect and give access to real time earthquake information and earthquake products. The collection part collates seismological data from national institutes and data collected from eyewitnesses who share their experiences through felt reports, comments or pictures. The dissemination part comprises EMSC mobile and desktop websites, the Seismic Portal to access and visualize seismic data, accounts on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Telegram) and a mobile application “LastQuake” (Figure 2).

Within the EPOS project, EMSC has developed web services to give access to various earthquake products. Without restriction, they allow to request events, moment tensors, felt reports, event identifier mapping, Flinn-Engdhal region lookup and source rupture models. All these six web services are accessible via a graphic user interface to facilitate data filtering in space, in time and with seismological parameters and are also accessible via url for scripting and automatic systems. In addition, EMSC event information is available in real time via websocket. The main entry point for these services is the Seismic Portal accessible at Concerning the interoperability of these services with the EPOS platform developed by the ICS, all EMSC web services are now incorporated into the portal. The integration has been focused on the fdsn-event and on the moment tensor web services, which are fully operational on the graphical user interface. Other services need more interaction with ICS to finalize the graphical output and will soon be integrated. In complement to the technical development of these services, attention is focused on users. To help users exploiting web services to access EMSC earthquake products, the EMSC propose use cases, tools and tutorials on and

AHEAD, the European Archive of Historical Earthquake Data, is conceived as a Pan-European, common, and open platform to support the research on historical earthquakes. The archive is managed by INGV in coordination with other 11 European organizations active in this scientific field. AHEAD provides public access to event parameters (i.e. earthquake catalogues) and macroseismic intensity data on European earthquakes retrieved from publicly available sources and cover the time-window 1000-1899. Access to event parameters is possible via either the web user interface (, or using three web services ( compliant to widely adopted standards such as FDSN-event, and the Open Geospatial Consortium Web Feature Service and Web Map Service (OGC WFS & WMS). There are two additional custom web services providing access to macroseismic intensity data encoded in QuakeML 2.0 and very much similar to FDSN-event, and one providing access to bibliographic data describing the literary sources used as input. All of these web services are integrated into the EPOS ICS portal.

EFEHR, the subdomain of hazard and risk services

The European Facilities for Earthquake Hazard and Risk (EFEHR) is a non-profit network of organizations and community resources aimed at advancing earthquake hazard and risk assessment in the European-Mediterranean area. The EFEHR Consortium was established on 2nd October 2019 in Zurich by 11 founding members who all recognize the value of coordinated efforts towards the assessment of seismic hazard and risk, towards a better harmonization of data, information and knowledge as collaborative basis for the development and dissemination of models at regional, national and European levels, and towards fostering the understanding of seismic hazard and risk by all stakeholders, including scientists, the general public, insurance industry and decision makers. The main activities of the EFEHR Consortium are to: (a) coordinate seismic hazard and risk assessment on a European level, including the coordination and harmonization of data, methods and scientific approaches, as well as development of best practices; (b) maintain and make available the Earthquake Hazard Model for Europe (ESHM), including the planning and coordination of further updates; (c) promote coordinated research activities and a joined research and development agenda in the area of seismic hazard and risk assessment; (d) promote coordinated activities related to the development of reference seismic hazard maps for the European Committee for Standardization CEN/TC250 Eurocode 8 'Earthquake resistance design of structures; (e) organize and provide oversight for European level services for seismic hazard and risk as part of the European Plate Observing System (EPOS) Research Infrastructure, in particular as part of the Thematic Core Service EPOS Seismology, including organization of representation of EFEHR in the EPOS Seismology Consortium and in other EPOS governance bodies where relevant; (f) support scientific discussions and training of EFEHR participants as well as the wider community to improve key elements of the seismic hazard and risk assessment, supported by tools, peer- review, performance benchmarking, training events and workshops; (g) facilitate exchange of information on, and develop a coordinated and harmonized approach towards, dissemination and publication of seismic hazard and risk information. The currently active services of EFEHR include: European Database of Seismogenic Faults (coordinated by INGV Italy), European Ground Shaking Intensity Models (coordinated by GFZ, Potsdam), European Geotechnical Database (coordinated by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), a European seismic hazard platform (coordinated by ETH Zurich) and a European seismic risk platform (coordinated by EUCENTRE, Pavia). European fault data, hazard maps and building exposure maps from these services are already integrated within the EPOS ICS platform.


The EPOS Seismology Consortium was formally established in October 2019 by the Consortium Parties (ORFEUS, EMSC, EFEHR) with the chief aim of jointly envisioning, coordinating, harmonizing, integrating the future developments of seismological services at European scale and interacting with EPOS ERIC. The principal governing body of the Consortium is the Assembly (CA) of the Party representatives and any additional Consortium members. The CA will adopt a transparent community-driven approach and will include community representatives and observers, in addition to the representatives of the Consortium Parties, which are selected within the governance bodies of ORFEUS, EMSC and EFEHR among their members. The CA will meet at least once per year and often report to and receive feedback from the European seismological community at conferences and workshops. Among the activities of the CA will be the coordinated development of work programmes, including the identification of host institutions responsible for specific activities and contributions. This includes the finalization of ongoing activities (e.g., the ORFEUS-EIDA federator, the EGSIM ground motion model service) as well as, more ambitious and innovative, collaborative planning of new activities that require expertise from all subdomains of EPOS Seismology, like the harmonization of ShakeMap at European level.