BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Seismology / Nuclear test-ban

Propagation of seismic waves after an earthquakeSection of the Earth showing the propagation of seismic waves after an earthquake (calculated) Source: BGR

Seismology – the science of earthquakes – covers a broad range of applications. It is not purely related to earth science – such as the source mechanisms of earthquakes, propagation of seismic waves, and the structure of the Earth’s interior – but is also of political significance. This is because data from seismic monitoring stations can be used to detect, locate and identify seismic signals from underground nuclear weapons tests.

Although no nuclear tests have been conducted since the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty (CTBT) was signed in September 1996, seismology plays an important role in monitoring compliance with this treaty. Consequently, seismology is also of political relevance for BGR because it acts as the German National Data Center in the CTBT context. Its various functions include the operation and maintenance of seismometer stations in Germany, and the use of verification techniques, particularly in the area of seismic event identification.

In addition to these politically related activities, BGR is involved in various scientific seismological projects. The scope is as broad as the field of seismology itself and ranges from the monitoring of seismicity in Germany and the world, to studies of earthquake source processes. Additional fields of activity are seismic risk analysis, seismic hazard assessment, propagation of seismic waves, and investigations of the Earth’s structure.


Dr. Christian Bönnemann
Phone: +49-(0)511-643-3134
Fax: +49-(0)511-643-2304

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