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7 Findings and Recommendations 1. It is important both for effective hazard mitigation and for scientific research that earthquakes within the United States be recorded regularly by a seismic system made up of networks operating on national and regional scales with long-term, stable financial support and uniform operating proce- dures. No such system now exists. Recommendation. The federal government should establish a more ra- tional, coordinated, and stable means of support for the seismic networks of the United States either by consolidating funding and program management within a single agency or by assigning coordinative authority to a single agency for these purposes. Because of its assigned role in developing the U.S. National Seismic Network, it is recommended that this agency be the U.S. Geological Survey. 2. Regional seismic networks with bases at universities or other research institutes, and operated in regions of moderate or high seismicity, play an essential and unique role in the recording and study of the nation's earthquakes. These networks and their central facilities provide a public service as local points for distribution of information on earthquake occurrences and on hazards posed by earthquakes. They provide data for basic and applied research on active tectonic structures within their particular regions and thus for prediction of possible earthquake activity, on the structural framework of the U.S. portion of the continent, and on other general seismological topics. They also provide realistic experience for the training and education of seismologists and other earth scientists. 42
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FINDINGS AlID RECOMMENDATIONS 43 Recommendation. The designer and operator of the proposed National Seismic System should consider that the services in research and education performed by regional seismic networks are necessary and integral compo- nents of that system. 3. The United States faces the imminent loss or technological obsolescence of its regional seismic networks. This is due to the lack of any government- wide policy for the long-term support of these networks and the restriction of funds within agencies that attempt to provide such support. Recommendation. The federal government should provide long-term funding to stabilize the operation of regional seismic networks and, through a planned program of reasonable increases, to modernize these facilities. 4. The U.S. National Seismic Network now being developed in the eastern United States by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission embodies the correct approach to seismic monitoring in sections of the country where no regional networks now exist, to providing a standard base from which to report the occurrence of earthquakes, to providing data on earthquakes and seismic wave propagation characteristics on a continental scale, and to providing a framework for tying together the regional networks. Long-term support for the operations of the USNSN is needed, as is funding for extension of the USNSN to the western United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. Recommendation. The U.S. Geological Survey should complete the USNSN in the eastern United States as designed and provide funding for its long- term operation and extension to the western United States. 5. A unique opportunity now exists to advance significantly, or at least to stabilize, earthquake monitoring, seismic data collection and dissemination, and, to some degree, seismological education and research in the next few years. This could be accomplished through the linking of the regional seismic networks to the USNSN in a National Seismic System. Recommendation'. The federal government should establish a National Seismic System through the technical linking and coordinated operation of regional seismic networks and an extended USNSN. This system should be supported by a single federal agency (probably the USGS because of its role in the USNSN), or one agency should be given authority for the coordi- nation of its development and operation. Support for this system should be long term and should provide, through systematic planning, for moderniza- tion and for increases in operational costs due to inflation.
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44 ASSESSING THE NATION'S EARTHQUAKES 6. Currently, the federal government spends approximately $10 million per year to monitor and analyze the nation's earthquakes through seismic network operations. (This dollar amount is based on estimated funds budgeted for either internal or external seismic network support by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The estimated amounts are for operational and basic analysis costs only; they do not include costs for special research using seismic network data.) Twenty percent, or $2 million, of the $10 million annual federal funding will be discontinued by 1992, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ends its program of supporting seismic networks in the central and eastern United States. Both the current budgetary levels and those projected for 1992 are seriously inadequate for carrying out a high- quality program of earthquake surveillance—either as now mandated by the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 or as envisioned under future development of a National Seismic System. Recommendation'. The federal government should fund a National Seis- mic System at a level of $12 million per year, which is $2 million above current federal appropriations identified for seismic network operations. The $12 million base budget does not include funds necessary for regional network modernization. It will, however, ensure stabilization of existing network operations by providing some adjustment for the phased withdrawal of support by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for seismic network operations in the central and eastern United States and some correction for the damaging effects of inflation caused by level federalfunding during the past six years. In addition to the annual operating costs cited above, not less than $15 million in new monies will be needed over a five-year period for (1J ex- panding the USNSN to full 50-state coverage, (2) funding satellite data links from the national center to the principal regional network operation centers, (3) upgrading computer facilities at the regional centers, and (4) standardizing and modernizing the regional network component of the pro- posed National Seismic System. This phased, one-time expenditure is considered necessary to fulfill the objectives of Recommendations 3, 4, and 5. Not less than $5 million will be required to complete the USNSN in the West and to complete satellite data links to key regional centers provided with upgraded computers. The creation of a National Seismic System presupposes modernization of at least a subset of the nation's 1,500 existing regional network stations. Conservatively, $10 million will be required to upgrade one-third of those stations to three-component, broadband sensing stations with fully digital data transmission. Finally, as the National Seismic System is developed, it will be important to provide support for research in the universities that is based on the data produced by the regional seismic networks.
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