In Jules Verne's Footsteps: Seismology in the source



When Professor Otto Lidenbrock led his little band to the center of the Earth in Jules Verne's 1864 classic novel, the intrepid adventurers needed little more than practical 19th century clothes to provide them with comfort and protection. How different the science of earthquakes would be if conditions in the Earth were really so friendly to the would-be observer. Even the operation of seismic sensors at the relatively modest depth of 2–3 km, roughly the depth of the shallowest crustal earthquakes, requires careful precautions against the effects of unstable materials, temperature, pressure, and water for successful long-term observations to be made. Indeed, the handful of successful deep borehole experiments that have been conducted to date have depended on simple sensors with limited bandwidth and dynamic range, and have yielded data that were not ideally suited to investigating the details of the earthquake source.