New technique separates industrial noise from natural seismic signals

May 19, 2020

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., May 19, 2020--For the first time, seismologists can characterize signals as a result of some industrial human activity on a continent-wide scale using cloud computing. In two recently published papers in Seismological Research Letters, scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory demonstrate how previously characterized "noise" can now be viewed as a specific signal in a large geographical area thanks to an innovative approach to seismic data analyses.

"In the past, human-caused seismic signals as a result of industrial activities were viewed as 'noise' that polluted a dataset, resulting in otherwise useful data being dismissed," said Omar Marcillo, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the study. "For the first time, we were able to identify this noise from some large machines as a distinct signal and pull it from the dataset, allowing us to separate natural signals from anthropogenic ones."

The study used a year's worth of data from more than 1,700 seismic stations in the contiguous United States. Marcillo detected approximately 1.5 million industrial noise sequences, which corresponds on average to around 2.4 detections per day at each station.

"This shows us just how ubiquitous industrial noise is," said Marcillo. "It's important that we're able to characterize it and separate it from the other seismic signals so we can understand exactly what we're looking at when we analyze seismic activity."

This data was accessed and processed using cloud computing--a novel approach that allows for greater scalability and flexibility in seismological research. The approach is detailed in a companion paper, which demonstrated how cloud computing services can be used to do large-scale seismic analysis ten times faster than traditional computing, which requires data to be downloaded, stored, and processed. Using Amazon Web Services' cloud computing, researchers were able to acquire and process 5.6 terabytes of compressed seismic data in just 80 hours. To do this using traditional computing methods would have taken several weeks.

Marcillo said that his work to characterize industrial noise across the country would not have been possible without this new cloud-computing approach. "My colleagues and I had figured out how to separate the industrial noise signal from the rest of the seismic signal, but we couldn't scale it," he said. So Marcillo collaborated with Jonathan MacCarthy to find a way to expand it to cover a large geographical area; cloud computing was the answer. It is also flexible enough to adapt to the evolving needs of many research applications, including processing speed, memory requirements, and different processing architectures.

"Seismology is a data-rich field," said MacCarthy, lead author of the paper on the cloud-based approach. "Previously, seismic data would have to be downloaded and processed by each individual researcher. Cloud computing allows all of that data to be stored in one place, and for researchers to easily access and work with it in a community-based way. It's a huge development and has the potential to totally transform the way seismological research on large datasets is done."
-end-
Research papers

Omar E. Marcillo, Jonathan MacCarthy; Mapping Seismic Tonal Noise in the Contiguous United States. Seismological Research Letters ; 91 (3): 1707-1716. doi: https://doi.org/10.1785/0220190355

Jonathan MacCarthy, Omar Marcillo, Chad Trabant; Seismology in the Cloud: A New Streaming Workflow. Seismological Research Letters ; 91 (3): 1804-1812. doi: https://doi.org/10.1785/0220190357

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is managed by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

Related Cloud Computing Articles from Brightsurf:

Turbulence affects aerosols and cloud formation
Turbulent air in the atmosphere affects how cloud droplets form.

Using cloud-precipitation relationship to estimate cloud water path of mature tropical cyclones
Scientists find the cloud water path of mature tropical cyclones can be estimated by a notable sigmoid function of near-surface rain rate.

Analysis of human genomes in the cloud
Scientists from EMBL present a tool for large-scale analysis of genomic data with cloud computing.

Quantum cloud computing with self-check
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics.

Storage beyond the cloud
As the data boom continues to boom, more and more information gets filed in less and less space.

The secret life of cloud droplets
Do water droplets cluster inside clouds? Researchers confirm two decades of theory with an airborne imaging instrument.

Cloud computing load balancing based on ant colony algorithms improves performance
The criticality of certain sectors, as well as the requirement of users, involve Cloud providers to guarantee a high level of performance.

Army researcher minimizes the impact of cyber-attacks in cloud computing
Through a collaborative research effort, an Army researcher has made a novel contribution to cloud security and the management of cyberspace risks.

'Cloud computing' takes on new meaning for scientists
Clouds may be wispy puffs of water vapor drifting through the sky, but they're heavy lifting computationally for scientists wanting to factor them into climate simulations.

Space cloud discovery
No one has ever seen what Case Western Reserve University astronomers first observed using a refurbished 75-year-old telescope in the Arizona mountains.

Read More: Cloud Computing News and Cloud Computing Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.