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Unique web-based portal strengthens knowledge of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and geology

Unique web-based portal strengthens knowledge of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and geology


Published: 10.01.2020
Oppdatert: 11.12.2023

Andreas R. Graven

The EPOS-N portal for large geological data has been launched, based on the Enlighten software developed by NORCE technologists.

One of the main objectives for the international main project EPOS is to strengthen the understanding of factors that, individually and collectively, trigger earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis.

– This is important knowledge, not only for risk understanding in general, but also when planning and constructing important infrastructures such as roads, housing and public buildings, says technologist and senior scientist Tor Langeland at NORCE.

The EPOS-N portal was launched at the Nordic Geological Association's winter meeting in Oslo on January 10th.

Partners in the EPOS-N project - the Norwegian part of EPOS - are NGU, NORSAR, the Norwegian Mapping Authority, the University of Bergen, the University of Oslo and NORCE. Funding is provided by the Research Council of Norway.

Explore the EPOS-Norway webportal


This is the first time Norwegian data has been collected across all the research institutions mentioned above, also making it possible to visualize and analyze data in the portal.

Further, the monitoring capacity in the Arctic conditions has ben strengthened.

EPOS-N offers full interactive visual analysis

Based on NORCE's long-standing development of the Enlighten software, the EPOS portal enables full interactive visual analysis of big geological data in a web browser, explains Langeland at NORCE:

– Users can visualize and analyze data directly in the portal instead of first downloading the data to their PC. In the portal, users are able to both search for relevant data and then visualize and analyze them. Different types of data are combined in the visualizations to explore correlations.

Earthquakes and tsunamis may seem like distant events in geologically stable Norway. Nevertheless, the contributions of data from the Arctic part of the Eurasian tectonic plate, on which Norway is located, are also important for the international EPOS project. The portal can be used for assessing earthquake risk, but also the risk of landslides. The latter is becoming increasingly relevant in times of increased climate risk as a result of more frequent extreme weather events due to climate change.

Besides developing the advanced visualization software, NORCE technologists have led the data integration work package in the EPOS-N project.

This animation above illustrates visual analysis of earthquakes where the user changes the selected geographical area in one plot, and it shows how the magnitude and the number of stations capturing each event (illustrated with color) change in real-time with this selection.

Researchers and policymakers are target groups

– By integrating data from many national infrastructures with measurement stations, a better understanding of risk is achieved, providing full data access to researchers and policymakers, says Langeland.

An example of a integrated visual analysis would be to retrieve seismic events in an area, see if there is loose material , steep surrounding terrain and whether critically important infrastructure is nearby - either below sea level or on land. The EPOS-N portal also includes data on geology and faults - important when assessing risks of collapse and earthquake, says Langeland.

The portal includes large amounts of historical data. Also, data is continuously collected from many other sources, including seismic stations: seismometers that record the earthquake shakes, and GPS stations.

– GPS stations record position over time (movements can cause stress build-up in the earth's crust which in turn can cause earthquakes). As mentioned, we have geo-models and other types of measurements, Langeland says.

The Norwegian project has been in running since 2016, with funding from the Research Council of Norway's Infrastructure Program.

An important user group of the EPOS-N portal is researchers, but also state and municipal decision-makers are important users.