Safeguarding Seismic Instrumentation: A Guide to Power Surge Protection


Seismic instruments are vital for monitoring and researching geological events. However, these sensitive devices can be easily damaged by power surges, which often occur during thunderstorms or due to electrical malfunctions. Protecting your valuable seismic instrumentation from such unpredictable events is crucial. In this blog, we’ll explore how to shield these delicate systems effectively.

Understanding Power Surges

Power surges can result from various sources, including lightning strikes, sudden changes in power voltage, and incorrect mains connections. The aftermath of a surge is often a burnt circuit board, leaving us to theorize on the cause. However, regardless of the source, the solution remains constant: proactive surge protection.

The Role of Lightning Protection Boxes

Lightning protection boxes serve as the first line of defense, designed to protect data loggers and digitizers from transient voltages. These units not only shield the analog channels but also provide galvanic isolation for the power supply to the sensor, ensuring that surges are de-energized before reaching the digitizer.

Incorporating Surge Protection

While the datalogger’s DC power input comes with built-in reverse voltage and surge protection, additional measures are crucial. Surge protection boxes are specifically designed to safeguard only the digitizer’s analog input channels from high-energy transients.

Ensuring Proper Grounding

The effectiveness of any surge protection device is heavily dependent on a robust Earth system. Without a proper Earth connection, the excess energy from a surge has no path to dissipate, rendering the protection ineffective. Ensure that both the data logger housing and the surge protection boxes are connected to the Earth system to allow for a safe discharging route.

Identifying Installation Needs

Since surge protection requirements can vary greatly depending on the installation environment, it’s vital for customers to assess their site-specific needs. Factors such as the likelihood of lightning strikes, the presence of other antennas, and Ethernet connections should guide the decision on whether to integrate surge protection boxes.

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

Installing an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is an excellent step towards mitigating the risk of power surges. A UPS not only isolates the system from mains electricity but also maintains a stable voltage, adding an additional layer of security.

Boosting System Robustness

Enhancing the robustness of your seismic system involves several strategies:

  • Surge Protection Boxes: These are essential for absorbing excess energy from transients before they reach your sensitive equipment.
  • Following Manufacturer Recommendations: Refer to the manufacturer’s manual, specifically the sections dedicated to surge protection, which offer valuable insights into commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for further safeguarding your system.


Protecting seismic instrumentation from power surges is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires a thorough understanding of your setup and environment. By integrating lightning protection boxes, ensuring proper Earth connections, using UPS systems, and following expert guidance on COTS components, you can significantly reduce the risk of damage to your seismic instruments. Stay vigilant and prepared, and your seismic data collection will continue uninterrupted through storms and spikes alike.

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We would like to thank Michele Pedroni from Lunitek for his valuable insights and for sharing his experience on surge protections of seismic instruments.

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