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A Database of Digitized and Analog Seismograms of Historical Earthquakes in Japan

Murotani, Satoko and Satake, Kenji and Tsuruoka, Hiroshi and Miyake, Hiroe and Sato, Toshiaki and Hashimoto, Tetsuo and Kanamori, Hiroo (2020) A Database of Digitized and Analog Seismograms of Historical Earthquakes in Japan. Seismological Research Letters, 91 (3). pp. 1459-1468. ISSN 0895-0695. doi:10.1785/0220190287.

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Seismic and tsunami instrumental observations by seismographs and tide gauges began in Japan in 1875; hence, many analog records of earthquakes and tsunamis are stored at various universities and institutions throughout the country. Re‐examination of historical records using modern waveform analysis methods, high‐performance computing, and current knowledge on seismic velocity structure is expected to produce new results and interpretations of the mechanism of large earthquakes and tsunamis, leading to improved seismic disaster mitigation practices. However, such work requires extensive effort and skills for the digitization of the analog waveforms recorded on papers. To conveniently use the analog seismograms, we currently construct a database of digitized historical records and seismogram image copies of major earthquakes that occurred in Japan (e.g., the 1923 Kanto, 1944 Tonankai, and 1946 Nankai earthquakes). The data can be searched in this database by event, station, and seismograph names. Users can obtain the instrumental response and station information, if available, in addition to the digitized data. We plan to open this database to the public in a few years via the National Museum of Nature and Science and the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo. The database on the museum website will be fundamental for outreach activity of seismology for the general public, and the information contained in the database will be useful in various fields such as seismology or earthquake engineering.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Satake, Kenji0000-0002-3368-3085
Kanamori, Hiroo0000-0001-8219-9428
Additional Information:© 2020 Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received 1 October 2019; Published online 19 February 2020. The authors thank the editor and anonymous reviewers who provided valuable comments for improvements made to the article. The authors also thank the Earthquake Research Institute (ERI) and Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) staffs who contributed to the archive of historical seismograms. This database was partially supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), the Grants‐in‐Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) Grant Numbers JP18HP8037 and JP18H01289. Data and Resources: “Database for Historical Seismograms and Tsunami Waveforms” that we introduced here will be published through the National Museum of Nature and Science (NMNS;, last accessed September 2019) and Earthquake Research Institute (ERI;, last accessed September 2019) websites. Earthquake information used in this article was provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). Information of the analog seismogram archives at ERI can be obtained from “Historical Seismogram Search System” (, last accessed September 2019). Those images are in microfilm and not yet scanned hence not available online. We used digital images of the JMA seismograms prepared by Association for the Development of Earthquake Prediction and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japanese government: “the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion (HERP) data retrieval system of the JMA analog seismograms” (, in Japanese with English outline, last accessed September 2019). For availability of the JMA seismograms, see Furumura et al. (2020). The digitized database for the JMA strong‐motion seismograph (⁠V=1⁠) records is available on the Web of National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster (, last accessed September 2019). The seismogram database “Seismogram Request 2.0” is available on the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, Italy (, last accessed December 2019). We used software “KS/KL for Windows” of the KURABO Industries Ltd., to digitize the waveforms. Some plots were made using the Generic Mapping Tools (, last accessed September 2019; Wessel and Smith, 1998).
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)JP18HP8037
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)JP18H01289
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200506-124302414
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Official Citation:Satoko Murotani, Kenji Satake, Hiroshi Tsuruoka, Hiroe Miyake, Toshiaki Sato, Tetsuo Hashimoto, Hiroo Kanamori; A Database of Digitized and Analog Seismograms of Historical Earthquakes in Japan. Seismological Research Letters ; 91 (3): 1459–1468. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:103036
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 May 2020 19:55
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:17

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