Department of Terrestrial Magnetism


Steven Golden

Steven Golden

Field Seismologist
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
Carnegie Institution of Washington
5241 Broad Branch Road, NW
Washington, DC 20015-1305
202-478-8844 (phone)
202-478-8821 (FAX)

As the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism's Field Seismologist, I am primarily responsible for the upkeep of our Seismic instrument pool, its deployment in various field campaigns, and the processing and archival of the collected Seismic data. I am also constantly working on improvements to the various tools and processes involved in this workflow.

This is my home page at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, which focuses on my work at the institute. You are welcome to also check out my personal Web site: Code and Butter

Data Processing

Data coming from the field usually requires quite a bit of pre-processing, before it can be effectively used for scientific research. That pre-processing typically involves data format conversions, quality control and the correction of minor problems (e.g. timing errors, or incorrectly entered metadata), and finally the building of SEED volumes. Once the data is in the standard SEED format, it can be easily converted to SAC, or whatever other format may be required for the final data analysis. Also, data in SEED format can be archived at the IRIS DMC, from where researchers around the world can easily download it for their projects.

While much of this work is done with standard software packages, some of these still offered "opportunities for improvement", i.e. I felt that it was worth to rewrite parts of them to better fit my needs. The result of this effort is a new software package, which I named AcquiTools, available for download since late 2009. AcquiTools has since led to two spin-off projects: an XML based format for the description of seismic meta-data named AcquiML, and an iOS App for the control of Reftek RT130 data loggers named AcquiControl.

Field Work

As one would expect from a Field Seismologist, I tend to spend a significant part of my time out in the field. During the past four years I have been involved in four major field projects: PLUME, HLP, USACROSS, and ASSETS. This brought me to some quite interesting places, such as Hawaii, Eastern Oregon, Parkfield, and the Olympic Peninsula.

Since late 2009 all of this field work is complete, and all but one of our instruments are back at the lab. (This is the first time, that this happens since I joined Carnegie in early 2006!) However, processing and analyzing all that previously collected data is still keeping me and my co-workers quite busy a year later.

Former Research in Electromagnetics

Before I joined the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in early 2006, I was studying Geophysics at Frankfurt University. There I mostly concentrated on various aspects of Natural Low Frequency Electromagnetics, especially lightning research and magnetotellurics. Some of this might be still of interest, so I put up a separate page on Natural Low Frequency Electromagnetics.

It seems a bit paradoxical, that now, that I am employed in a department with "Terrestrial Magnetism" in its name, I am working purely in Seismology instead. Maybe someday I find the time to bring a little terrestrial magnetism back to this place? Oh well, so many interesting things to do... so little time.  ;)

Other Stuff

Just before I started work on my Master's thesis, I took up a part-time job at the University of Frankfurt's Department of Physical Geography. In 1997 and 1998 I worked there in remote sensing. To be more specific, I mostly scanned aerial photographs and geo-referenced them to maps or satellite images to produce orthophotos. These were then used to draw maps and to verify maps drawn by others. Most of this work was accomplished using the GIS packages ERDAS Imagine and ArcInfo/ArcView.

While I was a student at Frankfurt University, I did not just concentrate on Geophysics, but took plenty of courses in neighboring fields as well: among them Physics, Geology, Physical Geography, Meteorology, and even some Astronomy and Astrophysics. Not all of these courses were required or closely related to my major, but I simply found them fascinating. I probably spent much more time on them, than was helpful for my career. But I still strongly believe, that one has to look into neighboring fields, if one wants to see the Physics of our planet in a broader perspective. Well, and it was fun!