Nanometrics Awarded $10 Million for International Seismic Monitoring Network Upgrades

By McKenzie Carpenter Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Nanometrics, a Canadian seismicity monitoring company, announced it was awarded $10 million by the United States (US) government to upgrade its international seismic monitoring network.

3D rendering of a seismograph.

New Company Contract

Nanometrics is a business that collects and analyzes real-time seismic network activity to provide a variety of monitoring solutions and equipment for studying man-made and natural seismicity in all climates and environmental conditions. Seismicity refers to the frequency in which earthquakes occur in a particular region.

The company announced it was awarded a $10 million contract from the US Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) that will be distributed over five years to improve and upgrade AFTAC’s global seismometer and data acquisition systems. A seismometer, also known as a seismograph, is a tool that measures ground vibrations caused by earthquakes, explosions, volcanic eruptions, and other earth vibrations.

Based out of Florida, AFTAC is a government surveillance organization that operates and maintains the US Atomic Energy Detection System. The system is designated to monitor the nuclear treaty compliance of all foreign countries that signed the treaty.

In addition, AFTAC reports any seismic activity to US officials in the event that foreign nuclear explosions are detected. Furthermore, AFTAC works closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the US Department of Defense (DOD).

Bruce Townsend, General Manager Seismology and Executive Vice President of the business, said in a statement, “We are proud to partner with AFTAC to upgrade and enhance their IMS [international monitoring system] network, which is critical in civil protection and emergency planning. Nanometrics' integrated solutions will be instrumental in delivering near real-time, high-quality seismic data to national security decision-makers.”

In congruence with system upgrades, under this new contract, the business will work alongside AFTAC to “deploy stations designed specifically for global monitoring applications.” These stations will include long and short-period seismometers and infrasound and meteorological sensors. Infrasound describes sound waves that are emitted at a lower frequency than humans can process.

This contract announcement comes about a week after the company announced it had received a four-year multimillion-dollar contract from the Canadian government to implement its technology into Canada’s new Earthquake Early Warning seismic detection and monitoring network.

Seismic Activity

People who don’t live near fault lines, volcanoes, or in countries that have frequent nuclear activity may not understand the value of seismic monitoring. However, the business is looking to educate, detect, and possibly prevent earthquakes from happening so that actionable plans can be implemented to help people around the world in affected areas.

The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) reports that millions of earthquakes a year are estimated to occur; however, the NEIC staff reports and publishes on the roughly 30,000 per year that are the most significant — those in the magnitude of 3.0 or more in the US and a 5.0 magnitude elsewhere around the world.

Additionally, nuclear explosions have been known to cause earthquakes and even aftershocks but often do not produce the same severity as a natural earthquake. Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that occur in the same area after larger, more severe earthquakes.

About the Author


Headshot of McKenzie Carpenter

McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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