IRIS Brings Seismology to Capitol Hill

Spring/Summer 1999 IRIS Newsletter

Members of Congress and their staff created earthquakes, saw a playback of the 1994 Northridge event and learned about global seismology at an exhibition and reception on Capitol Hill organized by the Coalition for National Science Funding. The exhibition featured projects supported by the National Science Foundation and demonstrated to Congress how such projects meet the Nation's research and education goals.

At the invitation of the American Geological Institute and the American Geophysical Union. IRIS set up a seismology display that was developed with the US Geological Survey. Members of Congress appreciated the strong cooperation between IRIS and the US Geological Survey. They were impressed also with the multiple uses of the IRIS facilities serving not only scientific research, but also earthquake education. Other exhibits included "The Virtual Earth System" by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and "Measuring the Earth with Quasars" by the American Astronomical Society.

Following the exhibition, Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman of the Science Committee, issued a statement commenting "I am among those constantly amazed by the variety and depth of NSF-sponsored projects, some of which are on display today....While other federal science agencies may have bigger budgets, I doubt if any has a bigger impact than the National Science Foundation (NSF) on the scientific enterprise."

At the AGU/AGI/IRIS exhibit, most of the questions were about earthquake hazards and the frequency of earthquakes in various parts of the world. Such questions were no doubt partly due to the timeliness of the exhibit following the recent passage of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Authorization Act of 1999. The bill authorizes a total of $469.6 million over five years for the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP), and includes funding for the Advanced National Science System. Although the authorization passed strongly, the tight budget climate may make it difficult for the funds to be actually appropriated this year.

David Applegate, Director of Government Affairs for the American Geological Institute, discusses recordings from the Northridge earthquake at the Coalition for National Science Funding exhibition on Capitol Hill.