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PASSCAL provides open-source software for downloading seismic data from data recorders, for quality assessment, and for conversion to other data formats for analysis and archiving at the IRIS Data Management Center.

PASSOFT is supported only for Mac and Linux operating systems, and not for Windows. Some Windows users have been able to use PASSOFT by first installing a Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Note: PQL is no longer distributed with PASSOFT. We have replaced PQL functionality on PASSCAL provided laptops with SQLX. SQLX is a commercial package ( that provides all of the capabilities of PQL in addition to suite of enhanced features. If you still require the 2011 version of PQL, instructions are provided below.

New PASSOFT versioning

Starting in 2022, the version of software internally developed at PASSCAL has been updated to reflect major, minor and patch changes and be more consistent with the semantic versioning scheme.

The following is the new versioning scheme for the PASSOFT software:



  • YYYY: calendar year
  • MAJOR: version for which incompatible API changes were made
  • MINOR: version for which functionalities were added in a backwards compatible manner
  • MICRO: version for which backwards compatible bug fixes were made

Installing PASSOFT

PASSOFT requires the Python-based software distribution system called Anaconda/Miniconda (hereafter 'conda'). A suitable conda environment can be created, and the new version of PASSOFT can be installed in that environment, by running the terminal commands shown below. The installation requires conda version 4.9.0+ and internet access. If you do not have conda installed, click here to download and install the latest version. If you do have conda already installed, you should make sure you're running the latest version by typing the following from the command line:

$ conda update conda

The conda create command is used to install PASSOFT. During installation, users will be informed of missing packages or other install errors. In the create command below, the name "passoft3" is used to indicate the new Python 3 version, and to distinguish this suite from earlier versions of PASSOFT. The process of solving environments can sometimes take a while; patience is encouraged.  Once the installation is completed, the new environment must be activated, as shown.

$ conda create -n passoft3 passoft -c -c conda-forge

$ conda activate passoft3

The environment passoft3 is separate to any other conda environments you may have on your machine. Whatever you do in the passoft3 environment should not affect your other conda environments. You can always remove the passoft3 environment by running the following command:

$ conda remove -n passoft3 --all

Feel free to name your new conda PASSOFT environment as you prefer. In this example, passoft3 has been used to emphasize that the new version of PASSOFT only supports Python 3.

Every time you close your terminal, the passoft3 environment will be deactivated automatically. When you open a new terminal, you will need to make sure that you reactivate the PASSOFT environment by running the following command line:

$ conda activate passoft3

An easy way to figure out which conda environment is currently active is to run:

$ conda info -e

The environment with a star next to its name is the active one.

Once the conda environment where you installed the new version of PASSOFT is activated,  you can run PASSOFT applications qpeek, logpeek, fixhdr, Nexus, rt2ms ... by typing their name in the command line.

Once the new PASSOFT has been installed, you can check for and install updates to the package by activating the PASSOFT environment, and then running an update command. Here, 'passoft3' represents the name you have provided for the new conda environment; note that the exact keyword 'passoft' is required in the update command.

$ conda activate passoft3

$ conda update passoft -c -c conda-forge

Important note for Mac users: if you see the message "no $DISPLAY environment variable" when running PASSOFT GUI applications, you will need to download and install XQuartz, which used to come installed on Macs (X11). You can learn more here, and grab XQuartz here.

The new version of rt2ms (for RT130 Data Processing), 2021.238, is fundamentally different from previous versions.  Major changes include direct conversion from REFTEK format to miniSEED day volumes, time dependency of the parameter file (parfile), option to automatically generate a parfile, and removal of support for .ZIP and .ref files. Please consult the updated rt2ms documentation, and see the Passive Source documentation page for more information.

NOTE: PQL  is available from the PASSCAL website. To install this version, use the following command to install PQL in a separate conda environment (test_pql):

"conda create -n test_pql pql -c -c conda-forge" 

After completion of the conda create command, activate the new environment:

conda activate test_pql 

Now you should be able to run pql from the command line. This version is provided "as-is," and no further support of PQL will be available from PASSCAL henceforth.

All PASSOFT applications are listed here. If you have questions, or need help, please send an email to software-support [at] passcal [dot] nmt [dot] edu (Software Support).


PH5 is the PASSCAL archival format recommended for controlled-source and mixed-source data sets. PASSCAL has transitioned to PH5, PASSCAL's implementation of the hierarchical data format, version 5 (HDF5) data model, as the preferred archival format. The strengths of HDF5 make it an attractive model for an active source archival data format.

PH5 is a unified archiving format designed to make archival and retrieval of data as simple as possible. PH5's architecture also allows for quick editing of experiment metadata. This is because metadata is separated from the rest of the data allowing the metadata data to be updated and edited without having to reprocess and transmit the entire dataset of an experiment.

Download and installation instructions are available from the PH5 Wiki Page.


IRIS no longer maintains a license agreement with Boulder Real Time Technologies (BRTT) providing Antelope realtime software to IRIS member institutions. However, BRTT now provides Antelope to all educational institutions within the United States (details).  PASSCAL has a separate license specifically for the archiving of PASSCAL experiments, and we install Antelope on all field computers.  If you need Antelope for archiving your PASSCAL project, please data_group [at] passcal [dot] nmt [dot] edu (email the Data Group).


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