Real time data acquisition and processing


What is SeisComP?

De-facto standard

SeisComP is a seismological software for data acquisition, processing, distribution and interactive analysis that has been developed by the GEOFON Program at Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and gempa GmbH.

SeisComP is likely the most widely distributed software package for seismological data acquisition and real-time data exchange over internet. Its data transmission protocol SeedLink became a de facto world standard.

The first version of SeisComP was developed for the GEOFON network and further extended within the MEREDIAN project under the lead of GEOFON/GFZ Potsdam and ORFEUS. Originally SeisComP was designed as a high standard fully automatic data acquisition and (near-)real-time data processing tool including quality control, event detection and location as well as dissemination of event alerts.

In the context of the GITEWS project (German Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System) additional functionality were implemented to fulfill the requirements of 24/7 early warning control centers. Major changes in the architecture of SeisComP were necessary and many new features result in the upgrade of SeisComP to version 3. Important SeisComP releases are shown below. A first prototype of SeisComP3 developed by the GITEWS/GEOFON development group was released in May 2007. In 2020, SeisComP in version 4 was launched with an updated messaging system, a new license scheme and many new features and optimizations.

NOTE: SeisComP3 is free for non-commercial use and SeisComP in version 4 or higher is free for everyone. For the details, please check the SeisComP3 or the SeisComP license.


  • Data acquisition,
  • Data quality control,
  • Data recording,
  • Real-time data exchange,
  • Network status monitoring,
  • Real-time data processing,
  • Issuing event alerts,
  • Waveform archiving,
  • Waveform data distribution,
  • Automatic event detection and location,
  • Interactive event detection and location,
  • Event parameter archiving,
  • Easy access to relevant information about stations, waveforms and recent earthquakes.

Early warning

The new requirements for early warning purposes made it necessary to adopt the design and architecture of the previous SeisComP. The guidelines for the design of SeisComP are:

  • Implementation of critical functions as standalone modules to guarantee the independence from other functions (e.g. picker, magnitude calculation, interactive analysis),
  • Easy implementation of custom modules,
  • Independence of hard- and software,
  • Ability of data exchange between different automatic real-time systems,
  • Distribution of modules on several systems,
  • Robust system for rapid and reliable earthquake solutions (especially during seismic crises).


Today SeisComP is a versatile and very extensible software framework. It is used very successfully for earthquake monitoring and ships with processing tools for that purpose. Detecting an earthquake runs through multiple stages:

  1. Get the signals from the seismic sensors.
    Module: seedlink
  2. Find anomalies on the continuous signals. They are called detections and/or picks.
    Module: scautopick
  3. Group detections and try to find the hypocenter of the earthquake. To continue the terminology, a hypocenter in the context of SeisComP is called a location.
    Module: scautoloc
  4. Determine the magnitude
    Module: scamp / scmag
  5. Associate the located hypocenter with an incident. In seismology incidents are called events.
    Module: scevent

Each of the stages must deal with the real-time character of the domain. Different seismic stations use different communication channels with different transmission speed so neither of the stages can make any timing assumptions. The challenge is to update everything when new information are available in an efficient manner. That is what makes SeisComP so unique. All modules running inside a SeisComP system are independent and nonetheless part of the entire orchestration. Modules communicate with each other through a very efficient messaging system .

Additional to the real-time character of the automated processing system, SeisComP features interactive review and manipulation at almost any of the above stages. While the event processing runs in the background an operator can open the GUI application and try to find signal anomalies, review the location process and tune it, compute magnitudes and check and correct event (note: that is the final incident reported the public) associations.