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Here are some of the articles that have been recently posted to the PASSCAL website:

Station Service Procedure

Although PASSCAL station installations can vary according to the type of equipment being used, servicing is relatively straightforward and similar between station designs and equipment. 

Station servicing has 3 main goals:
• To retrieve waveform data recorded by the station since the previous service;
• To identify and rectify any problems with equipment or damage to the station;
• To refresh consumable items such as compact flash (CF) cards, batteries, etc.

A simple station with easy vehicular access should take around 20 man-minutes to service.

Station Servicing Suggested Materials List


To prepare for servicing the stations in your experiment, contact Landowners, contact PASSCAL, charge/check all necessary batteries: e.g. Clie, laptop, voltmeter, station spares, Battery for Baler downloads, handheld GPS. Review prior data, if this is not the first service trip.

Items To Pack for Station Servicing Trip:

Clie - Charge it BEFORE you go into the field
    Clie Power Supply
    Hot Sync Cable
    Serial Cable for RT-130 AND/OR
    Serial Cable for Q330 (i.e. you must have the cabling necessary to communicate with your dataloggers)

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The Polar Earth Observing Network (POLENET) is a large international, multidisciplinary project which is a core activity of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2009.  The project combines Seismic and GPS instrumentation at remote sites in Antarctica.  The data collected during the POLENET experiment will enable new studies of the inner earth, tectonic plates, climate, and weather.  U.S. POLENET projects are supported by the National Science Foundation. PASSCAL supports the U.S. seismic portion of POLENET by providing specialized cold-hardened, equipment, field support, and training for University based field teams.

Sensors for Year Round Polar Programs

Cold Rated Guralp CMG-3T

The Guralp CMG-3T seismometer is a 3-axis broadband instrument that has a flat response to ground velocity between 120s and 100Hz.  It has been tested to operate down to -55C and only draws 0.3W of power.

PASSCAL's Polar program has purchased the cold-rated 3Ts (with active logic high) for broadband experiments in Antarctica.  When powered and locked, the reported mass positions will be '0'.  This does not mean that the instrument is dead or unpowered.  Once the 'unlock' command is initiated, first the lock/unlock and then the centering motors should run and finally result in meaningful mass position readouts.

The CMG-3T has a low tilt tolerance and is sensitive to temperature changes, it therefore requires a well established and well thermally isolated vault.

Sensors for Summer Only Polar Programs

Your choice of seismic sensor for Polar research will depend on your scientific targets. PASSCAL has a wide range of both passive and active seismic sensors appropriate for controlled source, local or regional seismicity, ice dynamics or teleseismic studies. A comparison of our sensors can be found here.

Short Period Sensors

These are typically used for controlled source experiments, short term, local seismicity or ice studies.  The instruments available are the Sercel L-28 and L-22.  The L-28 is a 4.5Hz 3 component geophone while the L-22 is a 2Hz 3 component seismometer.

Station Servicing Common Failures

Murphy was Right!

There is a long litany of things that can go wrong during station servicing, including:

Sercel L-22 Short Period Sensor

Salient Features: This 3-channel sensor has a frequency of 2.0Hz, damping of 0.707 critical and sensitivity of 88V/m/s. Best used for (but not limited to) measuring local earthquakes, teleseisms, and some active source. Types of Projects include: determination of site response, determination of crustal structure, volcanic studies, aftershock studies, and glacial studies. Manufacturer Documents:

Link to Sercel seismometer page

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Updating Firmware For Q330's

Upgrading Q330 firmware is done with the program Willard.


Setup: Download the required firmware from Place the firmware into a folder with the name of the firmware (in this example the folder name would be "1.80"). Note: This is important because all Q330 firmware files are named identically. To keep them separated, they must be stored in separate folders.



Power up the Q330 and connect it to computer via console cable.

Start Willard and select console registration.


Select "No" if asked to create a dataless station.



Solar Equipment for Year Round Polar Programs

Low Power Solar Panel System

This solar panel system uses three Suntech STP020S  (20W) Monocrystalline Silicon solar panels mounted in a triangle to take advantage of the 24 hours a day solar insolation.   With the combination of cold temperature and solar reflection off the snow, this system produces close to 40W worth of solar power all day long in clear conditions.  This is more than adequate for most seismic recorder configurations.

This solar panel system is also very simple and quick to install in snow.  All that is needed is to have the base of the solar system buried in two feet or more of well compacted snow.  No guying is necessary.  Only one solar cable is needed to connect to a junction box located on the post.