The instrumental study of the earthquakes of the past requires the availability of the seismograms as well as the information on the seismic stations, the recording instruments and the instrumental constants.
The sources for the retrieval of such information, generically defined as documentation complementary to the seismograms, are numerous and of various types, such as: print and manuscript seismic bullettins, articles of scientific journals, station notebooks, letters and corrispondence between scholars and bodies. By means of the study of this documentation it is possible to indentify the instrumental constants but also to reconstruct the history of the activity of seismological observation in Italy and abroad.
The work group sets up and keeps up to day the census and the map of the places of production and conservation of the historically recorded seismograms (historical seismic observatories), and organises their recovery starting from the archives with more complete collections.
So far more than 1,200 locations of seismic-meteorological observation have been surveyed in Italy from the 17th to the mid-20th centuries, apart from those ones already identified by the Tromos project (1990-1997).
The seismograms, along with the documentary and instrumental material, a precious historical seismological heritage, are often preserved at observatory archives or bodies, but, most of the time, also in places of various kinds such as warehouses or rooms that are not always suitable for their proper conservation. So the risk of their decaying and deterioration is strong, making it impossible to consult them.
By means of the inspection at all of the above historical observatories and the consultation of the archives, it is possible to survey all the scientific material preserved therein; following the underwriting of agreements and contracts the materials are catalogued and a digital copy is produced.
Seeing the quantity and the heterogeneity of the scientific heritage present in Italy and the world, the selection of the documentation comes about on the grounds of a list of seismic events of major scientific interest studied by the SISMOS project or by international projects in collaboration with SISMOS.
Once the initial phase of the project was overcome, the research activity was extended towards other countries as well. In particular, collaboration was started with Russia (2002-2004) and, above all thanks to the creation of the Eurosismos project (2002-2007), the activity developed in a decisive manner by expanding the participation to 31 countries of the Euro-Mediterranean area. Furthermore, since 2006 SISMOS has taken part in the Neries European project; within the scope of this activity European researchers have used the SISMOS infrastructures for scanning seismograms of specific earthquakes, and for their vectorialisation with Teseo software.
Graziano Ferrari (person in charge from 2015)