NORSAR has been contributing to a safer society since 1968. Our unique expertise in seismology is used to monitor both natural and man-made earthquakes. Through numerous research and development projects over the past 50 years, we have developed unique seismological expertise. This expertise is used to solve societal challenges both in Norway and internationally, especially within regions that are vulnerable to earthquakes.

Test Ban Treaty

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted by the UN in 1996. The treaty prohibits the testing of nuclear weapons. Researchers from NORSAR participated in the treaty negotiations and contributed to the establishment of the monitoring system. The treaty has been signed by 184 countries, but since it has not been ratified by all nations it has not formally entered into force. Nevertheless, we monitor compliance with the treaty. The monitoring of potential nuclear tests is therefore NORSAR's core business.

In 1999, NORSAR were appointed as the Norwegian national data centre for questions related to the test-ban treaty. We advise the Norwegian authorities on matters related to compliance with the treaty and operate six international monitoring stations on Norwegian territory. These include four seismic stations in Hedmark, Karasjok, on Svalbard and Jan Mayen. The fifth station is a radionuclide station located on Platåberget on Svalbard, while the sixth station is an infrasound station in Bardufoss. Our research makes a significant contribution to the technology used by the monitoring system and we participate in international forums where technology development and operations are discussed. Through this work we contribute to a safer society and a safer world.

Seismic monitoring

NORSAR has expertise in seismology. We have additional competency in seismotectonics, seismic monitoring and seismic data analysis. We are one of the world's largest seismological observatories, with stations on the Norwegian mainland, Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, Bear Island and Antarctica. Our seismological monitoring shows when, where and how much the earth shakes. This makes us very well prepared to monitor natural and man-made events.

Our researchers share information about seismic events via the jordskjelv.no website. The service provides information on seismic events in Norway and internationally.

As an extension of our seismic monitoring, we have expertise in both seismic risk assessment and damage and loss assessment. These analyses can help describe the strength of future earthquakes and the consequences an earthquake will have for a specific area. As part of this work, we are now updating the earthquake zonation map for Norway. There is a broad consensus that an updated map is needed as a basis for risk assessments.

We also work with seismic monitoring of unstable rock slopes. We monitor Åkneset mountain massif in Møre and Romsdal and Jettan on the east side of Lyngenfjord in Northern Norway. We record both movements in the mountain massif and landslides.

NORSAR's instruments are very sensitive and can register very small seismic events. In addition to natural ground shaking, our measurement stations can therefore record man-made events and provide useful data to help characterize them. When a helicopter crashed in the Barents Sea in 2017, we located the position where the helicopter went down with a margin of error of only a few meters. This assisted the Governor of Svalbard and the Accident Investigation Board of Norway in mapping the accident’s course of events.