Contributed Memories

I'd like to share a story of Vitaly –
My husband and I credit Vitaly for bringing us together! It all happened on a trip to Russia in 2004. It was my first international trip, and I was part of a research team consisting of a graduate student (me), my advisor, as well as a professor and post-doc from another university. Vitaly had come along to be our translator for our week long trip to Novosibirsk, where we would interact with scientists at a university there. Our trip was going very well; however, many of the scientific discussions involved only the professors in our group, leaving myself and the post-doc, Stephen, to fill our time exploring the university together. Vitaly must have noticed the time we were spending together because a very strange incident happened.

We had to relocate hotels to a different city so as to meet up with additional scientists. The check-in process was a little bumpy (which we had learned from our previous hotel), so Vitaly handled it for us. When it came time for Stephen and I to sort out our rooms, Vitaly got sort of a devilish grin on his face, pointed at us, and giggled to the receptionist, whispering to her conspiratorially. She also giggled and nodded. Needless to say, we were a bit worried! We all got our keys and headed to our rooms. Everyone was on the main floor. Except for Stephen and I. Our rooms were on the very top floor, and once we'd lugged our belongings several flights of stairs, we realized we must be the only other guests staying in that part of the hotel! The whole floor was completely vacant except for us. We had rooms right next to one another.

We married a year later and think fondly of Vitaly playing matchmaker with those hotel rooms. I am especially thankful because he managed to score me a large suite with a pretty little sitting room and a full size bathtub (a welcome treat for shaving my legs). Stephen still grumbles a bit because he got a shoebox sized room, and jokes that Vitaly could have pushed for a nicer accommodation for him!


Marie Arrowsmith
Los Alamos National Laboratory



Dearest Tanya,

I am deeply shocked and sad about the passing away of my dear friend Vitaly. At the same time I am happy that I had an opportunity to meet him and you together very recently, to see him in good mood and spirit, attentative, interested, happy and still full of hope for things to come. I hope he had not to suffer badly, passed away in peace, having you on his side. I embrace you all, wishing you strength to cope with this loss. He will always be with us in our hearts and souls as long as we live on this beautiful planet.

/ Peter Borman /





Erinnerungen an Vitali Khalturin von Peter Bormann


I met Vitali for the first time when I visited in 1966 the Institute of Physics of the Earth (IFZ) of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow , and 6 years later at the IUGG General Assembly in Moscow in 1972. Both of us being observatory seismologists with almost daily work on real records had a lot to tell each other. In 1972 we debated my proposals for four sets of standardized seismograph response characteristics at first-order (basic) stations of the Soviet Union and other East European countries plus Cuba, to be submitted for consideration and approval by the forthcoming meetings of the Commission of the Academies of Sciences of Socialist Countries for Co-operation in Planetary Geophysical Research (CAPG) and the Commission on Economic Co-operation (COMECON) of these countries. These responses covered the frequency range from 10 Hz up to 300s and included, besides two band-limited responses (similar to the WWSSN-SP and –LP) also one displacement- and one velocity-proportional broadband system. These proposals were enthusiastically supported by Vitali, accepted by the CAPG and the COMECON and later included into the Willmore (1979) Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice and recommended as standard responses of type A2 (and A4, respectively), B3, C(new) and D.


The next longer meeting we had in May 1973 at the IFZ. I showed Vitali the analysis of magnitude data of station MOX (eastern Germany ) that had been determined with the standard responses A, B and C, as well as the related standard and orthogonal regression relations between different types of magnitudes measured on different types of records. The pronounced saturation of short-period mb became evident but also, that the classical Gutenberg-Richter (1956) relationship mB = 0.63Ms + 2.5 could only be reproduced when medium- to long-period broadband data were used. He himself put forward quite many related data from regional studies in the USSR which nicely complemented my regional studies from other areas. We agreed to prepare for the 1974 General Assembly of the European Seismological Society (ESC) in Trieste a joint paper, to be published in the Proceedings, with the title: “Relations between different kinds of magnitude determinations and their regional variations”. It contained three statements/recommendations with respect to mb and mB. They strongly departed from early practices in the WWSSN system and at NEIC, namely to restrict body-wave magnitude determinations solely to short-period mb and to measure in the early 1960s the maximum amplitude in the P-wave group only within the first five half-cycles, later changed to 10-15 s. In contrast we proposed:

a) In order “…to reduce the systematic differences between magnitude determinations from body waves and surface waves, … broadband records should be preferred to short-period narrowband ones for MB-determination …” (for earthquakes with magnitudes > 5-5.5; P.B.)

b) “…that the extension of the time interval for the measurement of (A/T) max up to 15 or 25 sec., proposed … in the Report of the first meeting of the IASPEI Commission on Practice in 1972 … is not sufficient in all practical cases, especially not for the strongest earthquakes with M > 7.5.” and that, therefore “…the time interval for measuring the maximum value of A/T should be extended to about 1 minute for the strongest earthquakes.”

c) “…In the case of (strong) multiple shocks we should determine the onset times and magnitudes of all clear successive P-wave … onsets separately as they give a rough impression of the temporal and energetic development of the complex rupture process. As a more realistic measure of the whole P-wave energy released by such a multiple event the value log Σ n (A i /T i ) should be used in the determination of MPV (n is the number of successive P-wave onsets)”.


Recommendation a) was in line with a similar recommendation of the IASPEI Commission on Magnitudes, adopted already at the IUGG General Assembly in 1962, but regrettably not put into practice at the seismological World Data Centers in the West;

b) was later adopted by the IASPEI Commission on Practice in 1978 and included as recommendation in the Willmore (1979) Manual;

c) was demonstrated after the great Sumatra Dec. 26, 2004 earthquake to have indeed the potential to yield very quick non-saturating body-wave magnitude values hours earlier than Mw, termed ΣmB by Bormann and Wylegalla (2005) and now mBc (Bormann et al., 2006).


In 1974 I met Vitali with his dear wife Tatyana Rautian at an international symposium on earthquake prediction research and practices at Tashkent , which had been convened by the late Professors Savarenski and Nersesov (see Foto 1). But then our ways separated for quite some time, because I “defected” from seismology in 1975, joined for a while the United Nations Outer Space Affairs Division in New York and was occupied for a decade with very different topics then seismological observatory practice. Yet in the mid 1980s I decided to rejoin the seismological community. One of my first related trips was to visit Vitali and Tatjana at Garm in 1987 - a great experience indeed. It could have been the beginning of a new phase in our collaboration, but the collapse of the former Soviet Union and of its allied governments in Eastern Europe resulted not only in Civil War in Tadjikistan and the tragic destruction of the Garm research center but also in the break-down of earlier established collaboration channels between our Academies of Sciences. Further, both the places and/or priority topics of our work changed greatly as a consequence of these political events.


So it lasted 15 years before we met again: at the poster session of the Annual Meeting of the Seismological Society of America in Victoria, April 2002. As the editor, I presented there in 13 posters the essence of the main chapters of the IASPEI New Manual of Seismological Observatory Practice. Vitali appreciated this IASPEI effort very much and noted with satisfaction that in Chapter 3 on “Seismic sources and source parameter” also part of his and Tatjana´s work, as well as the essential results of our joint publication on magnitudes had been outlined and referenced in this manual. Even greater was the joy, when I visited him, Tatjana and part of their wonderful great family in their home in Palo Alto in April 2006 (see Foto 2). I had just attended the 100 th Anniversary Earthquake Conference of the SSA in San Francisco and the subsequent USGS Tsunami Sources Workshop in Menlo Park and could report him that years of pushing in the IASPEI Working Group on Magnitudes for the reintroduction into global seismological practice of the broadband mB had been successful and the IASPEI Commission on Seismological Observation and Interpretation had adopted in October 2005 the recommendation of that WG for international standards of measuring mB and other widely used complementary magnitudes. Moreover, our proposal of 1974, namely to calculate a non-saturating cumulative mB for strong multiple rupture events, has now for the first time been demonstrated at the meetings of the days before with convincing seismic records and statistical data for strong events of the last decade, including the giant Sumatra December 26, 2004 earthquake. He was very happy about it and I myself, that we could share this moment together with Tatjana in friendly union.


Now that he has left us earlier than hoped we can remember and honor him best by continuing our work, which has benefited to a great deal also from his ideas, rich practical experience and friendly collaborative working spirit. Thus he will be with us still, hopefully for quite some time.

And here, two images of Tatiana Rautian in the 1970's, in the mountains of Central Asia.



Peter Bormann

Kleinmachnow, 15.09.2007