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Seismic website takes journey below the surface of the Earth

Two UK universities last month unveiled a new, free website that aims to improve understanding of the Earth's structure and natural resources by providing images from below the planet's surface.

The technology, called the Virtual Seismic Atlas (VSA), allows scientists, experts and non-specialists access to geological pictures and information.

The VSA website is a collaborative project between the University of Aberdeen and the University of Leeds. It is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council in partnership with a consortium of energy organisations. Oil, gas and seismic companies and geological surveys also provided information.

University of Aberdeen professor of tectonics Rob Butler said: "Traditionally, important geological images and information was extremely exclusive, only accessible by a limited group of scientists. The VSA website will enable students, professionals and members of the public to view these exciting images that illustrate what lies below the Earth's surface.

"The VSA website will make access to this information simple in a way that has never been possible before. Digitally collating seismic data and bringing the information together in this way will allow for improved research and simpler cross-referencing of information.

"The design of the website also involves an online community aspect, which means the bank of available images will grow organically over time."

University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment professor Bill McCaffrey said: "The sort of data we are releasing to the public is usually very difficult to obtain for scientific research.

Yet it is our primary source of geological information about the top 10km to 20km of the Earth's crust."

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