The 16 August 1997 Novaya Zemlya Seismic Event as Viewed from GSN Stations KEV and KBS

Hans Hartse Geophysics Group (EES-11), Los Alamos National Laboratory


On August 16, 1997 near 02:11 GMT a seismic event from near the Russian island of Novaya Zemlya was detected at the Prototype International Data Center (PIDC). Seismic events located on or near Novaya Zemlya are carefully examined because the northern end of the southern island is the Russian nuclear test site (NZTS in Figure 1).

The PIDC used the array stations NORES, FINES, HFS, and SPITS and the three-component stations NRI and ARU to locate the event off the eastern coast of the southern island of Novaya Zemlya beneath the Kara Sea (blue diamond, Figure 1). Seismological research organizations in Norway, Finland, and the United States all estimated locations similar to the PIDC location (Table 1). Furthermore, the 16 August event was too small to be detected or otherwise analyzed using teleseismic records. Hence, this event represents what may become the routine ground-based nuclear explosion monitoring situation - detecting, locating, and identifying a small seismic event using only regional data.

I studied the 16 August event by collecting and analyzing current and historic seismic data. I chose data recorded at stations KEV in northern Finland and KBS on Spitsbergen (Figure 1) because they have been operated for many years as USGS digital seismic stations and because archived records from these stations are readily available via the Internet from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Data Management Center (DMC).

My primary objectives were to (1) quickly confirm that the 16 August event did not occur near the test site and (2) do a discrimination analysis using the 16 August event, nuclear explosions, and regional earthquakes.

Summary and Acknowledgements

Please direct comments and questions to the principal author.