In the South Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica, ground motion created by a small, distant earthquake is recorded on South Georgia Island. Within hours of the earthquake, the data are automatically collected and made available to all government scientists and university researchers via the Internet. While near-real time access to seismic data from a remote oceanic island is a great technological accomplishment, the earthquake recorded on South Georgia Island signals a far greater achievement: operation of the 100th station of the Global Seismographic Network (Figure 1).
The Global Seismographic Network is a blueprint for scientific programs that not only advance our understanding of the physical world, but also address the needs of society. Funded by both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Global Seismographic Network is now yielding a multi-use scientific tool that will make it possible for us to explore the Earth's interior, mitigate earthquake hazards, and monitor compliance with the recently signed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.