# How sensitive are typical seismometers?

NASA recently landed a seismometer on Mars, with what sounds an impressive detection ability, with press reports gushing it is "able to detect vibrations smaller than a hydrogen atom." A more technical description is

SEIS [...] is capable of measuring accelerations down to $$10^{-9} m/s^2/\sqrt{Hz}$$ over frequencies of 0.001 to 10 Hz and $$5 \times 10^{-8} m/s^2/\sqrt{Hz}$$ from 0.01 to 100 Hz

-- which still seems pretty impressive. How does this compare to typical terrestrial equipment?

• these are not typical seismometers so they don't count; 1, 2 – uhoh Feb 9 '19 at 5:25

The table below gives you a nice summary snapshot up to 2015. Reference: Kamp, P.J., 2016. Towards an Ultra Sensitive Seismic Accelerometer (Master's thesis, University of Twente).

Sercel accelerometer, the top one in the table, is widely used in Oil and Gas industry, for example, to monitor induced seismicity. Below is an excerpt from the article: "A high-sensitivity MEMS-based accelerometer", by J. Laine and D. Mougenot (2014), The Leading Edge, 33(11).

1 g is about ~10 m/s^2 (9.80665) so 1 ng ~ 10^-8 m/s^2. For the Sercel then 360 ng mentioned in the paper (three times the rms noise level) = 3.6 ^10-6 m/s^2.

Correct me if I am wrong. • it would be nice to transform those values in ng to m/s² so they can be directly compared with the values given for SEIS – Camilo Rada Feb 8 '19 at 18:31
• 1 g is about ~10 m/s^2 (9.80665) so 1 ng ~ 10^-8 m/s^2. I will add the conversion for the MEMS to my answer – MyCarta Feb 8 '19 at 20:19