Electronic Supplement to
Origins of a National Seismic System in the United States

by John R. Filson and Walter J. Arabasz

This electronic supplement contains the Charter of the Council of the National Seismic System (April 1993).



The seismologists of the United States, engaged in the systematic instrumental recording of earthquakes and other seismic events throughout various regions, recognize the advantage of coordination of their respective efforts. Specifically, seismologists recognize that their individual and collective efforts will be enhanced through cooperation and coordination amongst local, regional, and national seismic networks in the fields of data exchange, equipment and computational facilities, research, and public service. Given this recognition, this charter establishes the Council of the National Seismic System.


Section 1. Definition. The National Seismic System is defined as the union of national, regional, and local seismic networks of various institutions and agencies working as members of the Council established by this charter and working under the policies and procedures adopted by the Council. (The term seismic is used to encompass instruments and procedures used to record, transmit, and analyze any and all ground-motion information from earthquakes and other sources.)

Section 2. Purpose. The goal of the National Seismic System is to meet the needs of the people of the United States for timely and accurate earthquake information relevant to research, education, engineering, and public safety associated with seismic and volcano hazards. To this end, the objective of the National Seismic System is to promote cooperation and coordination among institutions and agencies engaged in the operation of seismic networks. The purpose of the Council is to consider and establish policies and procedures for the National Seismic System.

Section 3. Role of the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S. Geological Survey, hereafter called the Survey, shall serve as steward of the National Seismic System and as Secretariat of the Council.

Section 4. Eligibility. Membership of the council is restricted to those United States institutions and agencies, including elements of the Survey, engaged in sustained operation of networks of instruments that record ground motion from earthquakes and other seismic sources. Although the formal membership of the Council is restricted to institutions and agencies of the United States engaged in seismic operations therein, all individuals and groups engaged in relevant efforts are welcome and encouraged to participate in the work of the Council. Affiliate memberships may be considered for domestic and foreign organizations.

Section 5. Voting Representatives. Each member institution or agency operating one or more seismic networks may have one voting representative appointed by that institution or agency. The Survey shall have four voting representatives, two representing the Survey’s regional networks, one representing the National Seismograph Network, and one at-large member. A designated alternate may vote in place of an appointed representative.


Section 1. Officers. The Chair of the Council shall be elected from a member institution or agency by the voting representatives. The Chair shall appoint, with the consent of the voting representatives, a Vice-Chair from a member institution or agency. The Vice-Chair shall assume the duties of the Chair in the absence of the Chair. The Chair and the Vice-Chair shall serve concurrent terms of two years, neither may be re-elected or reappointed to consecutive terms in the same position. Officers shall retain their voting privileges during their terms of service.

Section 2. Rules of Adoption. The Council shall attempt to adopt policies and procedures for the National Seismic System through consensus or general agreement of its members. If a consensus cannot be achieved on any issue, policies and procedures may be established by a majority of voting representatives within the Council.

Section 3. Role of the Secretariat. The policies and procedures of the National Seismic System adopted by the Council, either by consensus or vote, shall be recorded or published by the Secretariat. The Secretariat shall also record and publish minutes of each Council meeting and maintain a list of active Council member institutions, voting representatives, and participating individuals.

Section 4. Committees. The Chair shall appoint, with advice from the member institutions, an Executive Committee of individuals from member institutions to guide the work of the Council. The Chair and the Vice-Chair shall serve in like roles on the Executive Committee. The Chair may appoint, with the consent of the Executive committee, additional committees or working groups consisting of individuals from member institutions or agencies, or other experts as appropriate, to advise the Council.

Section 5. Meetings. The Council shall meet at least once during each calendar year. The time and venue of the meetings shall be determined by the Chair with the advice of the voting representatives. Arrangements for these meetings shall be made by the Secretariat.


Section 1. Scope. The scope of the policies and procedures adopted by the Council may include but is not limited to:

Section 2. Acceptance and Application. Institutions and agencies will be accepted as Members of the Council by pledging to abide by the rules of this charter and to act in good faith and to the best of their ability in the application of the policies and procedures established by the Council. Member institutions and agencies shall indicate their adoption of this pledge by affixing to this charter or a copy thereof the signature of an authorized individual. This individual shall return a signed copy of the charter to the Secretariat and at that time indicate in writing the name of the voting representative and an alternate of that member institution. Subsequent intent by a member institution to change its voting representative or alternate, or to withdraw from the Council shall be conveyed to the Secretariat through written notification. The Secretariat shall periodically request member institutions to review, and if necessary revise, their designated voting representative and alternate.

Section 3. Amendments. This charter may be amended at any time by approval of two-thirds of the voting representatives.


Boise State University

Boston College

California Department of Water Resources

California Institute of Technology

Delaware Geological Survey

Georgia Institute of Technology

Idaho National Engineering Laboratory

Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS)

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Northern Arizona University

Ricks College

St. Louis University

University of Alaska, Fairbanks

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, San Diego

University of Memphis

University of Nevada, Reno

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

University of Oregon

University of Puerto Rico

University of Southern California

University of South Carolina

University of Texas, El Paso

University of Utah

University of Washington

U.S. Geological Survey

Virginia Tech

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