SRL: Hello from the New Editor of SRL



March/April 2007

Hello from the New Editor of SRL

When I returned to academia after a sojourn of seven years in Vienna, I applied for the Seismological Research Letters editor position as a way to reintegrate myself to the academic world and to perhaps serve as a liaison between the many “worlds” I have experienced during my professional career. In Vienna, I worked for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to establish the Treaty’s International Monitoring System. Now, as I write my self-introduction as the new SRL editor, I keep wondering: Why did I do it? Those of you who know me know that I am not usually short for words, but now that I am in the spotlight, I am speechless.

At first I found it comforting to be following in the footsteps of Editors John Ebel and Susan Hough, but now I know that it is not going to be easy. Over the past 11 years they managed to establish this flexible scientific publication as a respected journal among earthquake scientists and engineers. SRL was conceived as a general forum for informal communication amongst its constituency. In the first SRL Opinion, John wrote, “I took the job as editor of the New SRL because I feel strongly that more communication among seismologists and between seismologists and the rest of the world is needed.” (SRL 1995, 66, p. 3) Sue, in her Editor’s Farewell, said that the challenge to the editor is contained in the word “flexible.” (SRL 2006, 77, p. 649–-650) The guidelines for submissions to SRL state that articles “should be informational in nature and should be of current interest to a cross-section of the SSA membership. Articles expressing some particular view about seismology or seismological research will also be accepted. Articles that contain original research results should be submitted to the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA). News/notes, special reports on particular earthquakes, seismic network summaries, information on computer hardware or software pertinent to seismology, seismological equipment information, book reviews, and letters to the editor are also solicited for publication in SRL.” (http://www. As the new editor I am bound to follow these guidelines, but I will keep in mind the power and appeal of flexibility.

After only a few months of receiving your contributions, the question of why I got myself into this often comes to mind. Luckily this issue, my first issue as SRL editor, has a bit of readymade content: the Seismological Society of America meeting abstracts. For educating me about deadlines, I would like to thank SRL Managing Editor Mary George as well as the rest of the production staff for all the work they do behind the scenes that makes SRL’s timely publication possible. As the new editor, you have my commitment that I’ll do my best to shepherd manuscripts through the review and publication process. However, this can only be achieved with your help, that is, when you submit informational, interesting, well-written articles. Additionally, in order to keep manuscript authors happy and the scientific integrity of SRL intact, I will need help from committed reviewers. My gratitude goes to all of you in advance.

As for the Opinion column, I understand why it is the hardest space in SRL to fill. Voicing an opinion and writing an opinion are two different things, as I just found out. If you feel that you have something to say, or you know of somebody who may, please contact me with your suggestions or contributions. As editor, I will continue to solicit contributions from individuals or institutions to keep the channels of communication open as a small step toward solving the challenges that lie ahead for our growing earthquake community.

My hope is that under my guidance and with the help of SRL Assistant Editors Susan L. Bilek and Michael J. Rymer, who have agreed to continue in this capacity, this journal will continue to thrive and expand its horizons. Part of the appeal of SRL is in its well-established sections and columns, such as the Eastern Section of SSA pages headed by Martin Chapman, and the EduQuakes column by Rob Mellors. However, some columns, such as Electronic Seismologist and Earthquake Lites, are in need of leadership (any volunteers?). Future issues of SRL may contain new columns to encompass interdisciplinary, historic, or social issues. I will do my best to make this happen by accepting and soliciting contributions.

As the Seismological Society of America celebrated its first century in 2006, Susan Newman asked, “Where do we go from here? What challenges do we face as we begin a second century?” (SRL 2006, 77 p. 643–645) Her answer, as Executive Director of SSA for more than three decades, called for globalization, for opening SSA to the world. I hope to draw on my recent experience building seismic stations all over the world to help build that global community through SRL.

We are members of a community that studies earthquakes, their causes and effects, as well as the implementation of engineering and safety measures to mitigate their consequences. However, the nature of earthquakes is not only to break tectonic boundaries. In the past few decades, our discipline of seismology also has served to blur boundaries among many of the earth sciences (geophysics, geology, geodesy) and to highlight technological advances in computer sciences, instrumentation, and civil engineering. After the devastating consequences of the Great Sumatra 2004 earthquake, it is clear that earthquake scientists and engineers need to develop more effective communication channels, not only amongst technical people but also with public officials and with national and international organizations. My experience is that developing communication channels between technical and governmental institutions is no small task. As the younger sibling of BSSA, SRL’s flexibility makes it the ideal forum to help our community foster these channels of communication. As all parents of teenagers know, the next few years will bring some growing pains. With your help, however, I would like to help the SSA community achieve some of its goals by doing the very best job I can, as my predecessors have done.

Luciana Astiz
Email- lastiz [at] ucsd [dot] edu