Looking for 2019 Guest Writers

Do you like writing about Science, have an idea for a new blog post or just want to try your hand at science communication?



You’re in the right place. The EGU Seismology Blog welcomes guest contributions from scientists, students and professionals in the Earth, planetary and space sciences for the 2019!

If you want to get involved, contact the blog editor – Marina Corradini  (

If in doubt, you can submit your idea for a post via the Submit a Post page on GeoLog, or email the EGU Communications Officer, Olivia Trani, who can help with initial enquiries and introduce you to individual blog editors.

When the Earth gets animated

Animations are a terrific way to engage students and to support public understanding of Earth Sciences. Yet, to make scientific research accessible, visual and fun is not easy. How do animations bring geophysics concepts to life? We asked the expert, Jenda Johnson (IRIS Education and Public Outreach)

When it comes to explaining Earth’s processes, animations come to the rescue.
Tectonic plates drifting on the asthenosphere, volcanos spewing lava and rubbles from their crater, earthquakes fracturing the crust and propagating till the Earth’s surface… Geoscience processes all deal with natural systems that change over time. Yet to understand dynamic subject matters is not easy-peasy, especially for learners, whether they be students or general public. To remedy this, graphic representation has increasingly been used as support [1], also thanks to the advancement in computer and software technology.
One of the reasons animations are now found so widely is the belief, shared among many, that animations can help learners understand complex ideas more easily. A recent study by Alessi and Trollip (2001)[2] has shown that mental representation is crucial for learners. Compared to static graphical representations, animations and simulations attract and capture attention; they facilitate science learning by reducing the level of abstraction of spatial and temporal information and the load of cognitive processing  [3], allowing the audience to build mental representation of unseen processes. Last but not least, their cosmetic appeal makes learners more motivated [4].
Animations are fully-fledged effective learning tools. But what is the educational strategy behind them? How can we create animations that are good for learning? Find out in our Interview with the Expert, Jenda Johnson.


Jenda Johnson has been working with the IRIS Education and Public
Outreach group since 2006. She produces geoscience animations,
videos, & interactive rollovers to depict geologic and seismologic
processes for teachers, students and general public. We asked her a
series of questions about her scientific, communication and graphics
expertise in making any geoscience project eye-catching, accurate
and clear for educational purposes.




What is your story, Jenda? Why Geology?
The truth is, I didn’t study Geology until I was 40 years old. I had had a career before that, but I had recently married a geologist and became surrounded by them. Being around geologists eventually prompted me to take a class of geology… mainly to understand the jargon of the people who came for dinner! Words like ‘andecite’ or ‘fractionation’ would no longer be a mistery to me. So I took a class, which then snowballed into getting a Bsc and a Msc in volcanic processes, and received a courtesy faculty position. But at that point my husband was transferred to Hawaii. Unfortunately, even though my master degree was in volcanic processes, there was no work for me there.”


That’s what drew you to science outreach?
“As a grad student, I was addicted to field mapping and research. I never envisioned a career into public outreach, honestly. But then I had to move away from research, where my heart was. I left the university and I joined the group that filmed lava flows in the Hawaii… And I got into filming for seven years! Starting thinking how to share that with the public and how much it can increase people’s interest in science: that’s what completely won my heart at that moment of my life.”
What about IRIS?
“Eight years later, when my husband and I returned to Oregon, I was contracted for a temporary position by IRIS. When I inquired as to what my job was, I was asked to figure out what was needed to help teach the public about earthquakes and seismology. Even though I had a seismology class as undergraduate, I never understood it very well. I also realized that the teaching material offered on the internet was not easy for the public to understand. Many people don’t see life in 3D: what they really need is a stepwise process of an animation.”

 Despite the apparent need for science outreach, achievements are still not sufficiently recognised. In times of an increasingly competitive funding climate, high-quality publications remain the currency of science and time spent on outreach activities equals less time for research.” says Dr Anne Osterrieder [6]

Scientists are now calling for increased public outreach and communication efforts. Why in your opinion?
“I do respect the outreach aspect of science at every stage of career. It is a tragedy that more students aren’t engaged by science, because when taught well it can be a fascinating journey into learning about the entire universe. In middle- and high-school geoscience education, too many teachers don’t fully understand geophysical processes, thus have a difficult time conveying an enthusiasm that hooks students to love science. Within academia, most focus only on his/her own research project, not taking time to share it with the public. Some component of outreach ought to be a part of every research projects: by describing your work in common language you can help the general public and the teachers understand your research, which results in interesting more people.”


Thanks to the establishment of several outreach activities in the last decades, the public knowledge of geoscience topics has improved. But still, some issues remain objects of debate among the masses. Is there still a topic on which science communicators should insist?
“I think that when there is scientific controversy, the major issues include misconceptions, lack of understanding, and a lack of ability to search for correct information. It is true that despite the numerous outreach activities, some topic still need to be explained. If I had to choose, my personal pet would be ‘predicting earthquakes’, which has been a hot-button topic. There are “conspiracy theorists” out there who believe that the government is hiding data. What I have always liked about seismology is that on the IRIS website all data is available in real time to anyone, especially if you subscribe to the data-management-system groups. Data is not hidden.”


Could you describe the process of creating an animation?
1) Research the topic. For complex topics I work with a Geophysicist to write out a story board that can be spoken aloud and that we can envision graphics for.
2) Collect photos and illustrations that others have made, and/or more commonly, make our own (use proper softwares).
3) Pull pieces together into an animation program.
4) Find science reviewers who are knowledgeable in the particular field of study to check for accuracy.
5) Have IRIS reviewers check to see that the animation works.
6) Get a narrator to read it.


Science disclosure is often the best compromise among scientific content, design and simplification of tough topics for the audience: what is your strategy? What is the aspect you focus more on when creating an animation?
“You need to find a common denominator that fills the gap between the science and the audience. In science animations, one of the mistakes often made is thinking that good art equals good science. Beautiful art may attract the general public but it doesn’t mean it is good science (but maybe that’s my excuse for not having artistic ability). Sometimes graphic artists are hired with no science background. They make very realistic pretty images but geophysical processes often can’t be shown to scale, because they are too huge or too small. So, I would say animation graphics should be designed with as little detail as possible to reduce information processing demands and let audience focus on the most important scientific aspects of the process.”

“People have fear of science: they have the fear they are not smart enough. And you want the audience to feel smart”

What are your key-points for an effective communication to the public?
“Know your audience. Try to address their level of knowledge: people need to be able to follow your presentation, what you are saying, and at the same time understand your slides. This can often be mentally challenging. Don’t underestimate that. Adjust language and graphic presentation accordingly. People have fear of science: they have the fear they are not smart enough. And you want the audience to feel smart.”


What is your suggestion for early career scientists to assertively communicate their science?
I remember as I was working on my master thesis, I enjoyed speaking with my peers. Accumulating and using a vast new scientific vocabulary can make you feel very powerful. But here I might caution you: be careful, adjust your speech depending upon who you are speaking or writing to. Keep in mind  that the words you chose can exclude your audience too. “If you can’t explain a process to your grandmother, you may not fully understand it” – that’s my motto. Do not try to impress your audience with all the fancy new words you have accumulated during your studies such that you use them to the exclusion of others following what you say.”



If you were to name a person who inspired you during your career, who would (s)he be?
“During this career (one of many!) in seismology outreach, I would definitely name Dr. Robert Butler. I began filming his workshops and now we work side-by-side on our trickiest animations. Robert had spent thirty years teaching at University of Arizona, he was made AGU fellow for his paleomagnetism research. He could have easily continued on that route. But quit it all to move to Portland and dedicated the rest of his career to teaching middle and high school science teachers about plate tectonics and earthquakes. He has received the highest marks in his workshop assessments, winning him a National Geoscience Teachers Award (NAGT). The way he uses his knowledge to teach teachers its really impressive and he taught me a lot: it is not ‘dumbing it down’, it is ‘clarifying it for the grandmothers!”

Jenda Johnson during one of her frequent backpacking trips on the mountains.


This post was written by Marina Corradini, with revisions from Walid Ben Mansour and Maria Tsekhmistrenko



Walid Ben Mansour is a post-doctoral research fellow at Macquarie University. He works on multi-observable probabilistic tomography for different targets (mining, seismic hazard). You can reach him at walid.benmansour[at]

Maria Tsekhmistrenko is a PhD student at the University of Oxford. She works on the velocity structures beneath the La Reunion Island from the surface to the core mantle boundary. You can reach her at mariat[at]


Jenda Johnson creates animations for IRIS to help Earth-science teachers understand complex seismologic processes, available here: Member of the Board of Advisors at Oregon State University’s College of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.  Among other collaborations: UNAVCO,  U.S. Geological Survey, Teachers on the Leading Edge (TOTLE), Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program (CEETEP), Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala National Park, EarthScope/USArray, High Lava Plains Seismic Array.


  1. Lowe, R.K. (2004). Animation and learning: Value for money? In R. Atkinson, C. McBeath, D. Jonas-Dwyer & R. Phillips (Eds), Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. 558-561). Perth, 5-8 December.
  2. Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.P. (2001).Multimedia for learning: Methods and development.Boston, MA; Allynand Bacon.
  3. Cook, M. P. (2006), Visual representations in science education: The influence of prior knowledge and cognitive load theory on instructional design principles. Sci. Ed., 90: 1073-1091. doi:1002/sce.20164
  4. Wouters, P., Paas, F. & van Merriënboer, J.J.G. Instr Sci (2010) 38: 89.


Scientific Talks: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Scientific Talks: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

We’ve all been there at some point: being nervous, stuttering, or losing our train of thought because somebody looks so incredibly bored that you are afraid they might actually collapse. Then there’s saying something stupid or just plain wrong, or talking so fast and quietly that nobody understands what your results are.

These are certainly my lowest moments giving talks and I’ll save myself the embarrassment of referring to the time and place they happened.


Recently, I attended a conference and once again I witnessed the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. After a few short years in science I’ve already gathered a (substantial) list of faux pas that occurred during talks I’ve seen. Here are my absolute top 10 unsuccessful presentations in recent years:

  • Having the slide full of text (font size 8), reading directly from the slide, mumbling and not once looking at the audience.
  • Figures directly drag and dropped from obspy, without labels (or font size 4) and then assuming everybody miraculously knows what the x and y axis are.
  • Animated animations with 10 figures on top of each other.
  • For the whole presentation not speaking into the microphone because the person is actually looking at the slide, explaining the important information without anybody hearing it.
  • Talking for 90% of the presentation about only one slide (which is not even relevant), realizing that time is running out and rushing through the rest of the slides which might have been interesting.
  • Squeezing 20 tiny figures very tightly into the final slide and only spending 15 seconds explaining them before time is up.
  • Generally coming unprepared.
  • A bright yellow background with pink colored font and green boxes for important information.
  • Comic sans. See this article for detailed information why comic sans should never be used.



…So, what makes a good talk?


Whenever I prepare a presentation, I try to follow the suggestions of my professor during my Masters. He had 5 golden rules for preparing a talk (here slightly modified):

  1. Keep the structure simple! Don’t try to squeeze in all the results of your project, unless they are important. Example: Introduction – Motivation – Methods – Results – Discussion. Done.
  2. Keep the slides simple! Not too cluttered with figures or text. Only put what you want to talk about, everything else that you will not talk about…Kick out! Text is there to support your argument, not to replace your talking.
  3. Remember the ‘1-slide, 1-minute’ rule: people don’t want to stare at the same slide for 5 minutes. Each slide needs to have some meaning, if you don’t talk about the slide, it goes in the bin.
  4. To check if a text or a figure is visually large enough, stand 60-100cm far from your desktop screen and see if you still can read the smallest font, if not make it bigger.
  5. Describe every figure you show and make sure to mention units and axis, even if the font is big enough – not everybody has a good eyesight. Make only very important statements or words boldit will stick in people’s minds better.


© Nienke Blom


These are the five basic rules of preparing the slides for a presentation. Now I want to add another, very important point.

After a recent week of talks at a conference the bulk of unsuccessful presentations were given by those who came unprepared, having dumped their latest research into one power-point presentation and made up their talks as they went along. On the other hand, often the best talks were from young researchers who might not have extensive results, but did have well-prepared, clean slides which were thought through and interesting even though some studies were at a preliminary stage. I enjoyed listening to those, because there were clearly some efforts put into these presentations.


Hence, my last point is: Prepare and practice your talk!


© Nienke Blom



This post was written by Maria Tsekhmistrenko, with revisions from Nienke Blom and Andrea Berbellini



Maria Tsekhmistrenko is a PhD student at the University of Oxford. She works on the velocity structures beneath the La Reunion Island from the surface to the core mantle boundary. You can reach her at mariat[at]

Nienke Blom is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge and works on seismic waveform tomography, developing methods to image density. She is the EGU point of contact for the ECS rep team. You can reach her at nienke.blom[at]

Andrea Berbellini is an Italian Post Doc at the University College London. He works on the source characterization from second-order moments and crustal tomography from ellipticity of Rayeligh waves. You can reach him at: a.berbellini[at]

Seismology Job Portal

On this page we regularly update open positions in Seismology. Do you have a job on offer? Contact us at



Latest open positions:


PhD opportunities


[1] Funded PhD opportunities in fluvial seismology at New Mexico Tech Open until: 2019-09-30 The students will join a project to investigate bedload transport in ephemeral channels. We will use direct measurements from the Arroyo de los Pinos sediment station to calibrate seismic and acoustic surrogates and explore the ability of dense nodal arrays to distinguish sediment transport from turbulence in relatively fine-grained systems. If interested, please contact PIs Sue Bilek ( and Dan Cadol (
[2] PhD positions in global seismology (particularly pertaining to lowermost mantle structures) at the University of Cambridge with any suitable candidates:


Post-Doc opportunities

[1] Institution: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Open Until: 2019-04-14
You will contribute to projects involving subsurface energy applications with emphasis on induced seismicity related to geothermal energy and geological CO2 storage developments. The purpose of the position is to contribute to our group’s efforts in developing technologies to safely extract energy from the subsurface. For more details and to apply please see:
[2] Postdoctoral Research Fellow – University of Southampton, UK
We are particularly looking for someone with skills in wide-angle seismology and reflection seismology, but will consider applicants from all fields of seismology. The successful candidate will work on seismic data collected during summer 2017 in a multi-source experiment focused on fluid escape structures in the North Sea, and potentially also on passive seismic data from the same experiment. Further details may be found at
The application deadline is 31st March and the post is available for immediate start. Interviews are expected to take place on 30th April. Please contact Professor Tim Minshull ( for further enquiries.
[3] Institution: Michigan State University
Open Until: 2019-04-01
We are seeking a postdoctoral research associate in developing and applying data analytics and computational algorithms to enable fast and high-fidelity multi-scale seismic imaging, with emphasis on dynamic monitoring the near-subsurface structure of the Earth. Potential projects include but are not limited to assimilating seismic data sets derived from passive, active, and ambient noise sources to image, monitor, and model (1) the spatial and temporal changes of active seismic and volcanic regions and (2) the interactions of water, life, soil, and rock in the Earth’s critical zone. The selected candidate will be working for Dr. Min Chen ( Preferred start date no later than September 1st, 2019, earlier if possible. Applicants must apply through the MSU online system.



PhD and Post Doc positions

SEAFOOD Project at GeoAzur:


Post Doc position

Postdoctoral Scholar Position
Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA

The candidate will be on a NASA-funded project, “The early phases of the crustal deformation/earthquake cycle from GNSS and complementary Earth observation datasets: Implications for earthquake and tsunami hazards.” The objective is to improve our understanding of the underlying physics of crustal deformation and the earthquake cycle, focusing on early onset postseismic deformation, through models of time-dependent fault zone processes.

Candidates should have demonstrated experience in modeling crustal deformation with the potential for independent, creative research.

The position is now open for a one-year period, with an option for an additional one-year, dependent on funding and performance. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please e-mail a CV, two references and a letter of research interests to”



Geophysicist Job

Institution: Sisprobe
Open Until: 2019-02-15

Sisprobe is the world’s leading provider of subsurface imaging and monitoring using ambient seismic noise surface wave tomography (ANSWT), hosted at the Institute of Earth Sciences (at Grenoble-Alpes University, France).

They are looking for:

*Experience in:

– surface waves tomography and inversion (ideally ANSWT);

– passive seismic data and processing.

*Advanced Matlab or/and Python knowledge (any additional programming language will be an advantage);

*Master in geophysics, seismology, mathematics, physics (PhD is an additional advantage, although it is not required);

*Fluent in written and spoken English.

If you are interested in this position, please send your resume and cover letter to:



PhD position

Institution: GNS Science
Open Until: 2019-02-28

We seek a highly motivated student for a 3-year PhD scholarship on numerical simulations of slow slip and earthquakes in the Hikurangi subduction margin. This project aims to use numerical simulations of seismic and aseismic fault slip and seismic wave propagation, combined with newly acquired on-shore and off-shore data, to understand the mechanisms controlling complex megathrust slip behaviour at the Hikurangi subduction plate boundary in New Zealand. The student project will include extensive numerical modelling and interpreting observations and model results.

The student will be expected to enrol as a PhD student at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and will be supervised by Yoshi Kaneko at GNS Science and Prof. Martha Savage at VUW.

Prospective candidates must have a strong background in geophysics, physics, engineering, or a related discipline, be proficient in one or more scientific programming languages (Matlab, Python, Fortran, etc.), and have completed (or is expected to complete) a Master’s or equivalent degree by the start of the PhD programme.

Applications including an up-to-date curriculum vitae and evidence of previous study should be submitted via the Faculty of Graduate Research website ( by 28 February, 2019. The start date is flexible but will be no later than 1 July 2019. Please direct all questions to:

Dr Yoshi Kaneko (



Post Doc position

Institution: Swiss Seismological Service, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Open Until: 2019-03-01

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher for an open position in our international team at the Swiss Seismological Service, ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Main tasks are the improvement of site-specific seismic hazard assessment and regional ground-motion prediction equations. This will be achieved by considering realistic sources and complex models for path and site effects. It is expected that both empirical and stochastic methods will be applied, also including descriptions of uncertainties.

The successful candidate will have a PhD in Seismology, Geophysics, Engineering Seismology or a related Engineering discipline. Strong background in statistics and/or engineering seismology is required. Proven experience with ground-motion prediction equations represents an important advantage. Excellent scientific programming and communication skills are a prerequisite, as is fluency in English. Knowledge of German or French would be regarded positively.





PhD positions

A large research initiative DeepNL on Investigating subsurface processes in the Netherlands has recently been initiated in the Netherlands. In the DEEP NL initiative Delft University of Technology has currently 15 PhD position advertised in a range of specialisations within the broad field of applied Earth Sciences. Please see the following link for more details:
The projects DeepImage and Science4Steer within DeepNL are the 2 projects that our Applied Geophysics and Petrophysics group is participating.
We would appreciate it very much if you could bring the enclosed advertisement to the attention of prospective PhD candidates. We are looking for candidates with proven excellence in physical / mathematical thinking. The application deadline for the students is on the 31st of January 2019.


Post Doc position

Institution: Niels Bohr <institute, University of Copenhagen
Open Until: 2018-12-01

The Solid Earth Physics Group at the Niels Bohr Institute is offering a PostDoc position for an excellent, highly motivated candidate interested in computational geophysics. The position is available for 2 years from February 1, 2019 (or soon thereafter).


Post-doc positions

[1] Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Geophysics and Tectonics division. The successful applicant will be involved in projects focused on the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain and Eastern Lau Spreading Center and will contribute towards the development of new methods, applications and research initiatives, and assist in supervision of graduate or undergraduate students involved in this field of research.Please send questions and application material to Robert Dunn (


[2] The Ocean Floor Observatory Technology Development Group, Research and Development (R&D) Center for Earthquake and Tsunami (CEAT), JAMSTEC is soliciting applications for two Postdoctoral Researcher positions in a research project entitled “Subduction Zone Observation and Monitoring for Hazard Mitigation” which is an integrated seismogenic zone research project through seismic surveys, seafloor observations, and monitoring earthquakes and tsunamis.Please refer to their website for details about the Research and Development Center for Earthquake and Tsunami and our research plan.