Modern seismology is a relatively new science; most current ideas originated no earlier than the latter half of the nineteenth century. The focus of this book is on seismological concepts, how they originated and how they form our modern understanding of the science. A history of seismology falls naturally into four periods: a largely mythological period previous to the 1755 Lisbon earthquake; a period of direct observation from then to the development of seismometers in the late 19th century; a period during which study of seismic arrival times were used to outline the structure of the earth's interior extending the 1960s; the modern era in which all aspects of seismic waves are used in combination with trial models and computers to elucidate details of the earthquake process. This history attempts to show how modern ideas grew from simple beginnings. Ideas are rarely new, and their first presentations are often neglected until someone is able to present the evidence for their correctness convincingly. Much care has been used to give the earliest sources of ideas and to reference the basic papers on all aspects of earthquake seismology to help investigators find such references in tracing the roots of their own work.
"...an important and accessible contribution to the technical history of geophysics that is neither a traditional topical history nor textbook, but a valuable hybrid with historical and technical features...successfully seeks to acquaint the nonspecialists with the main facts and methods in the largely 20th century history of seismic geophysics...Professors, researchers, and graduate students will find Howell's work a valuable resource and example." Gerardo G. Tango, Earth Science History "...a useful and readable introduction to seismology...I would recommend this book to any student who wanted to learn more about the history of seismology or, indeed, to any interested non-specialist." Timothy J. Clarke, Journal of Geological Education "Howell has written an excellent book for newcomers to seismology, especially graduate students, who are inquisitive about the past history of the science and about what avenues of research might be pursued in the future. As such, the viewpoint of seismology that he offers is refreshingly different from that given in conventional textbooks." Henry Spall, Episodes