Harvard - Adam Dziewoński Observatory

HRV Seismogram Archival Project


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The Harvard seismograph station is located within the Oak Ridge Observatory complex in the town of Harvard, MA. The station was developed in 1933 under the direction of Professor L. Don Leet, and it was Harvard’s first responsibility under the Rockefeller grant. Seismic activities were recorded on photographic papers from 1933 through 1952, followed by intermittent recordings on paper until 1997. The station today is part of the Global Seismographic Network operated by the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory, USGS (station code HRV), and continues to provide near real-time data from a multitude of instruments.

(Left) Original plan of the seismograph station from 1933 (found in the archives at the Albuquerque Seismological Laborary, USGS by C.R. Hutt). The vault is located about 4.5 meters below ground. Note that the brick building (providing work space) that exists today was not a part of the original plan.
(Right) Photo of the vault in 1930's with three Benioff instruments and Prof. Leet (taken by Paul Donaldson as appears in Geophysics at Harvard, a booklet published sometime in the early 1940's).


Before the digital era of seismic recordings, the ground motion at the station is recorded on photographic paper. The Harvard seismic analogue collection consists of about 16,000 seismograms from the time between 1933 and 1953. We are making efforts to salvage as much of the collection as possible, and to make them available to the community. For more information on this archival project, see the Archival Project page.


With limited maintenance and more than 70 years of operation, the station was noted to be in poor condition in the USGS trip report in 2006. The Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, with generous contribution from Quanterra, Inc., performed renovation of the station between 2007 and 2009.

The vault of the Harvard seismograph station before (left, July 2006) and after (right, January 2008) renovation.


In 2009, to commemorate Professor Adam M. Dziewoński’s retirement and to acknowledge his great contributions to the scientific and Harvard community, the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences has renamed the station to Adam Dziewoński Observatory.

A small reception at the Adam Dziewoński Observatory on November 05, 2009 that celebrated the installation of the dedication plaque. From left to right: Carl Tape, James R. Rice, Jerry X. Mitrovica, Sybil Dziewoński, Adam M. Dziewoński, Renata Dmowska, and John Platt.
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences / Harvard University / 20 Oxford Street / Cambridge / MA 02138 / U.S.A. / Telephone: +1 617 495 2350 / Fax: +1 617 496 1907 / Email: reilly@eps.hartvard.edu