The Charles Darwin Research Station began construction in 1960 and was officially inaugurated in January 1964. In addition to offices, laboratories, sheds, and even a meteorological station, the space included a seismograph.

According to CDF records, the original facilities for this sensitive instrument were built, with support from the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS), between March and December 1963 on a cliff inland from the CDRS.

Between April and May 1964, the device and a second generator, essential for its operation, were installed. Once it began operating, it became a member of the World-Wide Standardized Seismograph Network (WWSSN). That network was born in the early 1960s out of political concerns: the possibility of detecting nuclear tests and combating them. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense founded the C&GS to design and build an international network of seismographs, which would eventually become the WWSSN, and whose first station, Albuquerque (USA), was inaugurated in October 1961. By the end of 1963 there were 89 stations worldwide, which eventually grew to 121. In 1967 DARPA funding was discontinued, and the WWSSN became monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey, which ceased operations of the network in 1996.

In order to keep the seismograph active, the CDF received financial and logistical support from the C&GS, where the seismographic records were sent on a monthly basis. The CDRS received microfilmed copies of these records, which are currently preserved as an independent collection at the institutional Archive.

Together with the seismograms, an interesting series of reports, letters and notifications is kept, whose chronological range encompasses three decades. These documents provide a glimpse of the many difficulties and complications (technical, but also operational and bureaucratic) faced by those responsible to keep the seismograph in Galapagos active.

The history of the seismograph and that of the people who operated, maintained, and repaired it is yet to be written. In the meantime, the seismograms are a reminder and a small sample of the many and varied scientific works carried out at the CDRS, sometimes against all odds, throughout its six decades of existence.

Aa.Vv. [Seismograms]. [Microform]. Santa Cruz : Aa.Vv., 1964-1990. [N.d.] : [n.d.] : [n.d.]. DDC 551. Well preserved.

  Subject categories: History of CDF | History of Galapagos | History of science
  Keywords: Microforms | Seismograms
  Time framework: 1964


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Publication date: 1 October 2023
Last update: 1 October 2023