- © 2013 by the Seismological Society of America
Many seismological studies depend on the published orientations of sensitive axes of seismic instruments relative to north (e.g., Li et al., 2011). For example, studies of the anisotropic structure of the Earth’s mantle through SKS‐splitting measurements (Long et al., 2009), constraints on core–mantle electromagnetic coupling from torsional normal‐mode measurements (Dumberry and Mound, 2008), and models of three‐dimensional (3D) velocity variations from surface waves (Ekström et al., 1997) rely on accurate sensor orientation. Unfortunately, numerous results indicate that this critical parameter is often subject to significant error (Laske, 1995; Laske and Masters, 1996; Yoshizawa et al., 1999; Schulte‐Pelkum et al., 2001; Larson and Ekström, 2002).
For the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS; ANSS Technical Integration Committee, 2002), the Global Seismographic Network (GSN; Butler et al., 2004), and many other networks, sensor orientation is typically determined by a field engineer during installation. Successful emplacement of a seismic instrument requires identifying true north, transferring a reference line, and measuring the orientation of the instrument relative to the reference line. Such an exercise is simple in theory, but there are many complications in practice.
There are four commonly used methods for determining true north at the ANSS and GSN stations operated by the USGS Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory (ASL), including gyroscopic, astronomical, Global Positioning System (GPS), and magnetic field techniques. A particular method is selected based on site conditions (above ground, below ground, availability of astronomical observations, and so on) and in the case of gyroscopic methods, export restrictions. Once a north line has been determined, it must be translated to the sensor location. For installations in mines or deep vaults, this step can include tracking angles through the one or more turns in the access tunnel leading to the vault (e.g., GSN station WCI in Wyandotte Cave, Indiana). Finally, …