5. Using SEISAN

Once the system has been installed, it is ready to use. Usually all work should be done in the WOR directory or on a multi user system from your own directory. To move to WOR, type WO. Unless you have to do system work, it will not be necessary to move to any other directories. However to do so, just type the first two letters of the directory name like DA to move to the DAT directory. On a PC the Notepad editor is default (invoked with command Notepad from prompt), and on Linux it is the vi editor.

The system has two basic modes of operation. The first is to work interactively with the database. That means jumping around from event to event, plotting, interactive phase picking, locating, deleting, typing, editing or appending events (S-files). This mode is invoked with the command EEV, which uses several programs, controlled by a driver program and is intended for testing and editing of single events. Once the input data seems OK, the second mode of operation can be used.

The second mode is more like traditional data analysis where single programs are made to work on the whole or part of the database. In this mode the updated S-files and CAT-files are created. Examples are also plotting of epicenters, waveform data or searching for data fulfilling certain criteria.

The system comes with a test data set from different networks, mainly the Norwegian National Network for the time period 1990 to 2011. The data has waveform data in different formats. The data set includes events from both local and teleseismic distances. The installation of test data is separate from installation of SEISAN. However, two of the events, from June 1996, are always installed as part of the software installation.

If you want to try the system, go directly to section 5.4 to get a feeling for how the system works. You can then work directly with the data from the years 1996 and 2021.

User guide

A short user guide is found in the following section 5.1.


The document 'SEISAN tutorial' is an introductory tutorial for new SEISAN users. It does not require installation any test data since only the test data included with SEISAN is used. It is given as a PDF document in INF. Or here:

Computer exercises

The document `Introduction to SEISAN and Computer exercises in processing earthquake data' which is a more complete tutorial for both new users as well as experienced users, is included in the distribution. The testdata used in the exercises need to be installed, see chapter 3. It covers a lot more topics than the tutorial. The document is given as PDF file (seitrain.pdf) in the INF directory. Or here:


To get an idea of how SEISAN works, new users can take a look at a SEISAN webinar that was arranged by IRIS in 2014 (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJH3ktGL_K0 or fileseisan_webinar_iris_2014.mov on the SEISAN ftp server).

Illustration of earthquake ananlysis using SEISAN

SEISAN also has a document illustrating the steps involved when analyzing seismic records. This is more a demonstration than a course. Examples are given for local, regional and teleseismic earthquakes. This is done by giving representative screen plots together with explanatory texts that follow the figures. This document is part of the New Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice manual (http://bib.telegrafenberg.de/publizieren/vertrieb/nmsop/). All the data used are also included with the test data. In SEISAN, the document is found in INF: nmsop_is11.7_seisan.pdf. Or here:

SEISAN problems

Some of the most common problems have been collected in the index under the header "Problem" and in section 5.11.