Monitoring Seismicity in Guatemala - An SEG GWB Project

  • December 08, 2022
  • 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Baxter's InterUrban Grill and online (zoom) option


  • Zoom link to be provided
  • In-person attendance at Baxter's available for TGS members at GST member price.

Registration is closed

December 8th -  Baxter's Interurban Grill (in-person gathering) and online zoom. 

Title:     Monitoring Seismicity in Guatemala - An SEG GWB Project

Steve Roche – The University of Tulsa

Lindsey Hernandez – Ohio State University

Talk Synopsis: 

Guatemala is susceptible to a variety of geologic hazards, including violent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Increasing resilience to geohazards is key for keeping vulnerable Guatemalan communities safe. Our project aims to achieve this goal through implementing community-based educational workshops about earthquake and volcanic hazards, increasing INSIVUMEH’s seismic and volcanic monitoring capacity, and reducing disaster response time. This will be accomplished through international partnerships, including regional firefighters and EMT groups, the Guatemalan earth science agency INSIVUMEH, Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, US- and UK-based universities, and Hearts In Motion (a US-based NGO, which will manage this project). Societal goals include community education in the geosciences, greater awareness of geohazards and ideally a reduction in disaster response time.

Project is funded through the SEG Geoscientists Without Borders program (GWB) with substantial contributions from private donors and The University of Tulsa.

The first portion of the project involves implementing a regional seismic array consisting of low-cost “Raspberry Shake” 3C seismometer stations in Zacapa near the Motagua-Polochic fault system. Sensors are placed in firefighting/EMT stations with sufficient power and internet capability (WiFi). The second portion of the project involves the installation of a permanent broadband seismometer and infrasound sensor on Pacaya Volcano, providing full azimuthal coverage of this highly active volcano.

The Motagua-Polochic transform fault system (east – west) bisects Guatemala just north of Guatemala City. A magnitude 7.6 earthquake along this fault in 1976 resulted in ~23,000 fatalities. Approximately 1.5 million people currently live near the fault system, including the departments of Zacapa, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Jalapa, and Izabal in NE Guatemala.  Establishing a seismic monitoring array will provide real data to characterize the seismicity risk in Zacapa, allow for the compilation of a quantitative earthquake event catalog, and serve as a potential scaffolding for the future development of an “earthquake early warning system” (EEWS), in the case of a high magnitude earthquake.

Pacaya Volcano poses a significant risk to nearby communities. Pacaya is part of a volcanic complex 25 km south of Guatemala City. More than 10,000 people live within 5 km of this volcano, and 2.4 million people live within 30 km. Because the seismic network on Pacaya is sparse, an additional broadband seismometer and infrasound sensor will significantly bolster INSIVUMEH’s monitoring capacity. These upgrades will improve the warning time before changes in eruptive activity and aid in evacuation decision-making.

In addition, we will establish strong and long-lasting ties with local communities to improve disaster preparedness and resilience. To accomplish this, we plan to implement outreach and educational workshops on earthquake and volcanic hazards to vulnerable communities, as well as engage with Guatemalan secondary and post-secondary STEM students for geoscience education and research opportunities.

The new instrumentation provided through this project will be a significant improvement of INSIVUMEH’s earthquake and volcanic monitoring infrastructure. In addition, the educational and training opportunities that this work will provide will increase local expertise in geohazards and ensure longevity of these improvements.


Dr. Steven L. Roche

Geophysical Consultant

Research Professor - Geophysics, Geosciences Department, University of Tulsa

BIO: Steven L. Roche received his B.Sc. in Geophysics from the University of California, Riverside, in June 1978. He worked for Geophysical Service, Inc. (GSI and HGS) as an Area Geophysicist for the Permian Basin Region of West Texas / Southeastern New Mexico. In January 1994, Steve returned to school, attending the Colorado School of Mines as a member of the Reservoir Characterization Project (RCP), studying multicomponent seismology and 4-D applications. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1997, Steve joined Output Exploration, the oil and gas exploration division of Input/Output, working on exploration projects and multicomponent seismic applications within I/O. Steve joined Veritas DGC in February 2003, specializing in multicomponent applications in the position of Principal Geophysicist – Multicomponent Applications Group. Steve gained employment with Cimarex Energy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in April 2011 as Manager of Geophysics for Cimarex until August 2017 when he joined the faculty within the Geoscience Department at The University of Tulsa. Steve retired from active faculty at TU but continues to serve at TU as a Research Professor. He is currently a geophysical consultant and manages an SEG Geoscientists without Borders project in Guatemala, Central America.

Registration opens at 11:30am, Program commences at Noon

Online option:   

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Meeting ID: 812 9344 4539
Passcode: 331467



"Geophysical Society of Tulsa (GST)" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Oklahoma, P.O. Box 2784, Tulsa, OK 174101

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