Basics - Geophysical Network

What is the Geophysical Network?

The Geophysical Network delivers real-time geophysical data to clients in Geoscience Australia and external organisations.

The Geophysical Network Project installs, operates and maintains a state-of-the-art network of stations and sophisticated instrumentation that monitors natural and anthropogenic (human-made) hazards in Australia and around the globe.

The network detects seismic, infrasound, hydro-acoustic and geomagnetic activity in Australia and its external territories. It is the base from which earthquake, tsunami, nuclear-testing and geomagnetic monitoring functions are developed and it is utilised by Geoscience Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) .

To achieve this goal, a Quality Management System (QMS) is used to verify the data's authenticity and to correct calibrations. Monitoring the performance of the instrumentation is also another function of the QMS, this ensures that the equipment is operating correctly and is within manufacture specifications.

Key responsibilities

The key responsibilities for the Geophysical Network Project are to:

  • operate and maintain Australian National Seismic Network (ANSN) and Joint Urban Monitoring Project (JUMP) networks
  • operate and maintain Australian Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) seismic, hydro-acoustic and infrasound technologies, as part of Australia's commitment to ban worldwide nuclear testing
  • provide technical expertise and advice to Geoscience Australia projects, such as Geomagnetism, the National Geospatial Reference Systems (NGRS), RVO (Rabaul Volcanological Observatory), Risk Research Group, and the ATWS (Australian Tsunami Warning System)
  • provide technical and operational support to the Risk Research Group for significant Australian earthquake events and aftershock deployment studies.

Data quality

Seismic data from the Australian National Seismic Network, Joint Urban Monitoring Project, Australian CTBTO Stations and short-term quick response stations is collected and stored in databases managed by the Geophysical Network.  All data recorded at these stations is continually checked for possible problems associated with electrical and mechanical malfunction, cultural and electronic noise interferences, communication drop outs, instrumentation and response information correctness. 

The Geophysical Network Project aims to deliver the highest possible standard of data for all users of the data by setting the benchmark for data quality. The data is supplied in real-time to the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology and the CTBTO where data quality tools are used to confirm the high standard of data coming from the Australian National Seismic Network.


The Australian National Seismic Network is the primary seismographic network of stations within Australia and its territories. The first permanently established seismograph was installed at Riverview College in Sydney, New South Wales, with continuous seismic measurements recorded since 17 March 1909. 

The number of permanent installations increased significantly over the next 100 years with landmark events generating a better awareness of seismicity within Australia. This in turn has encouraged further research and funding. These events include:

  • The International Geophysical Year 1957-58
  • Newcastle Earthquake 1989
  • Indonesian Earthquake and Tsunami 2004.

At the time of the Newcastle Earthquake (1989), there were 14 stations throughout Australia run by the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), now Geoscience Australia.  Another fourteen were located in Western Australia and they were run by a sister branch, the Mundaring Geophysical Observatory (MGO). In 2000 the two observatories joined to form the Australian National Seismograph Network (ANSN) with a total of 30 stations spread across Australia and Antarctica. As a result of the Indonesian Earthquake and Tsunami in 2004, the network increased in size to 50 permanent primary stations.