About the journal

SEISMICHESKIE PRIBORY, ISSN: 0131-6230, eISSN: 2312-6965, DOI: 10.21455/si,

English Translation: Seismic Instruments, ISSN: 0747-9239 (Print) 1934-7871 (Online),


On some conventional misconceptions in seismology


V.Yu. Burmin


Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia



Abstract. The history of science knows a lot of examples, when scientific misconception for a long time dominated the scientific community and did significant harm to it. New ideas in science always made their way with great difficulty. The inertia of thinking, the temptation of following stereotypes often hamper the development of knowledge and lead to an erroneous interpretation of experimental data. Often a scientist has to face the skepticism of his colleagues and even the distrust of the community. Moreover, if new knowledge contradicts the established methodological schemes that are generally accepted in this or that field of science, attacks on the author of innovations are almost inevitable. Delusions inhibit, and sometimes lead to the development of our knowledge in understanding the processes occurring in the bowels of the Earth. These examples, of course, do not exhaust all errors in the Earth sciences and any researcher, if desired, can easily supplement this list. Misconceptions in science lead to the fact that scientists in the conduct of these or other studies get either incorrect results, or simply go to a standstill. Thus, if the coordinates of hypocenters are incorrectly defined, a whole chain of further incorrect conclusions arises in the study of certain regions. In addition to the “objective” consequences of misconceptions, “subjective” consequences cause considerable harm. By “subjective” consequences, we mean the influence of individual scientists being held captive by delusions, because of ignorance or misunderstanding of certain aspects of certain tasks, the emergence of new ideas and approaches in the field under investigation. Most often this is manifested in the review of articles and dissertational works of other scientists. In the proposed article, the author gives several examples of misconceptions, which, in his opinion, are typical for the area in which he has worked for many years. In particular, this concerns misconceptions that relate to the problem of determining the coordinates of hypocenters of earthquakes, the task of seismic tomography, the inverse dynamic problem, the task of reversal of the travel time curves of seismic waves and other problems. A total of 12 misconceptions have been considered, which, one way or another, affect the development of alternative methods of interpreting seismological data and our understanding of the structure of the Earth.


Keywords:  travel-time, splane, inverse problems, hypocenter, earthquakes.

About the author


BURMIN Valery Yurievich – Dr. of Ph. & Math, chief research scientist, Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russian Academy of Sciences. 123242, Moscow, ul. Bolshaya Gruzinskaya, 10, stroenie 1. Phone: +7(499) 254-68-95. E-mail:


Cite this article as: Burmin V.Yu. On some conventional misconceptions in seismology. Seismicheskie Pribory, 2018, Vol. 54, no 1, pp. 62-88. DOI: 10.21455/si2018.1-5 (in Russ.).


English translation of the article will be published in Seismic Instruments, ISSN: 0747-9239 (Print) 1934-7871 (Online),, 2019, Volume 55, Issue 1.