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SCEC Unified Community Velocity Model (UCVM)

UCVM Software Developers
Software Repository 
Scientific Point of Contact
Distribution Formats
SCEC GitHub source code
Docker Images
Mailing List
Join UCVM mailing list for announcements, new releases

User Resources
Issue Reporting
Contact: software@scec.org

Software License


The Unified Community Velocity Model (UCVM) software framework is designed to provide a standard programmatic interface to multiple seismic velocity models. One important use of UCVM is to create velocity meshes for use as input parameters for high resolution 3D wave propagation simulations. UCVM development is an interdisciplinary research collaboration involving geoscientists and computer scientists. Collaborating geoscientists develop, improve, and validate seismic velocity models. UCVM computer scientists integrate velocity models, geotechnical models, and associated processing utilities into a single software framework. UCVM is open-source scientific software designed to support earth scientists, civil engineers, and other groups interested in detailed information about earth properties. UCVM is primarily used by scientists to work with earth material properties on regional scales. 

Current Release

The source code for the current UCVM release v22.7.0 is on the main branch of SCEC’s UCVM GitHub Repository. The source code can be retrieved with this command:
This will retrieve the core UCVM source code and associated installation scripts. The UCVM software can be compiled and run on recent Linux software distributions using recent GNU compilers. The UCVM installation process will retrieve required velocity model data files that are selected by the user during the installation process. Installation instructions are provided in the UCVM user documentation wiki.
Docker images containing UCVM v22.7 with selected velocity models are located on Dockerhub. Instructions for retrieving and running UCVM Docker images are provided in the UCVM Docker user documentation wiki.
A prototype web-based interface to a Community Models viewer that includes the UCVM software is hosted at:

Release Notes

UCVM v22.7.0 contains new Basin Models. This release also contains important changes that resolve software conflicts between CVM-S4 and the Wasatch Front Model codes. Specific changes in this release include:
  • Nine southern California basin models have been registered into UCVM. These basin models were extracted from CVM-H and they typically extend down to approximately 5km.
    1. Los Angeles Basin
    2. Santa Maria Basin
    3. Ridge Basin
    4. San Bernardino Basin
    5. San Gabriel Basin
    6. Salton Trough
    7. Santa Barbara Channel
    8. Ventura Basin
    9. Inner Borderland
  • Validation tests were added to confirm query by elevation and query by depth for each registered models.
  • Installation of the large (~70GB)  CyberShake velocity models (cs173and cs173h) were removed as download options.
  • Software issues with UCVM installations that installed multiple models including CVM-S, CVM-SI, and WFCVM were resolved.
  • Documentation was updated to describe limitations on query by elevation/query by depth for certain UCVM models.
  • California Vs30 models was updated to Thompson 2018 v2.0 (see reference below)

Sponsored by

The SCEC Unified Community Velocity Model (UCVM) software development is supported by the Southern California Earthquake Center which is funded by NSF Cooperative Agreement EAR-1600087 and USGS Cooperative Agreement G17AC00047.

User Resources

Target UCVM Computing Environment
  • UCVM is designed to compile and run on recent Linux distributions.
  • UCVM Docker images can be run on computers with current Docker clients including Windows, macOS 12+, and Linux.

Developer Resources

Related Repositories
The SCECcode/ucvm.git repo contains the source codes that implement the core UCVM query interface. UCVM Python-based plotting modules, UCVM docker modules, UCVM Utilities programs, and the individual velocity models are hosted in their own GitHub repositories.
UCVM Plotting Utilities
UCVM Utility Scripts
UCVM Velocity Model Repositories
Run UCVM Docker Images
The UCVM Docker images are distributed because they will run on multiple computer platforms, including Linux, Mac, and Windows, without requiring installation of compilers, and they provide a simple way for users to work with the UCVM software. 
UCVM Docker Scripts
Users that are running Docker on their computer can retrieve and run a simplified version of UCVM from the SCEC DockerHub Repository. Instructions for running UCVM Docker images are available in the UCVM Docker user documentation wiki.

Create UCVM Docker scripts

SCEC also manages a GitHub repository which contains scripts for creating Docker images from the UCVM software. A full UCVM installation requires many GigaBytes of data storage. To keep the UCVM Docker image sizes to the minimal, the prebuilt UCVM Docker images contain a single velocity model in each Docker Image. Users that want to work with multiple velocity models may need to create a custom UCVM Docker image. Instructions for building UCVM Docker images are in following GitHub repository. 

Supporting Documentation


Previous Versions

We recommend using the latest version of the UCVM, and not earlier versions. The current version includes method improvements, additional velocity models, and bug fixes. However, we provided access to earlier versions of the software to support reproducibility of previous UCVM results, if needed.
Version 21.10.0
git clone --depth 1 --branch v21.10.0 https://github.com/SCECcode/ucvm.git
Version 19.4.0
Documentation for Previous Versions

How to Cite

Body Text
The research described in this article used UCVM v22.7.0 ( Small, 2017) published under the BSD-3 license.
We would like to acknowledge use of the UCVM software provided by the Southern California Earthquake Center (http://scec.org) which is funded by NSF Cooperative Agreement EAR-1600087 and USGS Cooperative Agreement G17AC00047.
Cite Code As
Small, Patrick E., Maechling, Philip J., & Su, Mei-Hui. (2022). The Unified Community Velocity Model (UCVM) (22.7.0). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7033687
Primary Reference
Small, P., Gill, D., Maechling, P. J., Taborda, R., Callaghan, S., Jordan, T. H., Ely, G. P., Olsen, K. B., & Goulet, C. A. (2017). The SCEC Unified Community Velocity Model Software Framework. Seismological Research Letters, 88(5). doi:10.1785/0220170082.  SCEC Contribution 2067
Acknowledge Models
Along with citing the UCVM software, researchers should also cite the appropriate publication for any of the velocity models they use in their research. Citations for individual velocity models are included in the Credits file in this repository, and in the GitHub repository that has been created for each model.
  • Shaw, J. H., A. Plesch, C. Tape, M. P. Suess, T. H. Jordan, G. Ely, E. Hauksson, J. Tromp, T. Tanimoto, R. Graves, K. Olsen, C. Nicholson, P. J. Maechling, C. Rivero, P. Lovely, C. M. Brankman, J. Munster (2015). Unified Structural Representation of the southern California crust and upper mantle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 415 1, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.01.016 SCEC Contribution 2004
CVM-S Model
  • Magistrale, H, Day, S, Clayton, RW, Graves, RW (2000) The SCEC southern California reference three-dimensional seismic velocity model version 2. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 90(6B): S65–S76.
  • Kohler, MD, Magistrale, H, Clayton, RW (2003) Mantle heterogeneities and the SCEC reference three-dimensional seismic velocity model version 3. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 93(2): 757–774. SCEC Contribution 630
CVM-S4.26 and CVM-S4.26.M01
  • Lee, E.-J., P. Chen, T. H. Jordan, P. J. Maechling, M. A. M. Denolle, and G. C.Beroza (2014), Full 3-D tomography for crustal structure in Southern California based on the scattering-integral and the adjoint-wavefield methods, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 119, doi:10.1002/2014JB011346. SCEC Contribution 6093
USGS Central California Model (cencal)
  • Brocher, Tom & Aagaard, Brad & Simpson, R. & Jachens, R.. (2006). The USGS 3D Seismic Velocity Model for Northern California. AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. -1. 1266.
  • Bowden, D. C., Kohler, M. D., Tsai, V. C., & Weeraratne, D. S. (2016). Offshore southern California lithospheric velocity structure from noise cross-correlation functions. Journal of Geophysical Research, 121(5), 3415-3427. doi: 10.1002/2016JB012919.
Imperial Valley Model
  • Persaud P., Y. Ma, J. M. Stock, J. Hole, G. Fuis and L. Han (2016), Fault zone characteristics and basin complexity in the southern Salton Trough, California, Geology, 44(9), p. 747-750, doi:10.1130/G38033.1.
Coachella Valley Model
  • Ajala, R., Persaud, P., Stock, J. M., Fuis, G. S., Hole, J. A., Goldman, M., & Scheirer, D. (2019). Three‐Dimensional Basin and Fault Structure From a Detailed Seismic Velocity Model of Coachella Valley, Southern California. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth,. doi: 10.1029/2018JB016260. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2018JB016260
Wasatch Model
  • Magistrale, H, Olsen, KB, Pechmann, JC (2008) Construction and verification of a Wasatch front community velocity model. Technical report no. HQGR.060012, 14 pp. Reston, VA: US Geological Survey.
Lin-Thurber Model
  • Lin, G., C. H. Thurber, H. Zhang, E. Hauksson, P. Shearer, F. Waldhauser, T. M. Brocher, and J. Hardebeck (2010), A California statewide three-dimensional seismic velocity model from both absolute and differential times. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 100, 225-240. doi: 10.1785/0120090028. SCEC Contribution 1360
Ely/Jordan GTL
  • Ely, G., T. H. Jordan, P. Small, P. J. Maechling (2010), A Vs30-derived Near-surface Seismic Velocity Model Abstract S51A-1907, presented at 2010 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, Calif., 13-17 Dec.
Topography-based Vs30 Model
  • Wald, D. J., and T. I. Allen (2007), Topographic slope as a proxy for seismic site conditions and amplification, Bull. Seism. Soc. Am., 97 (5), 1379-1395, doi:10.1785/0120060267.
Wills California Vs30 Model
  • Wills, C. J., and K. B. Clahan (2006), Developing a map of geologically defined site-condition categories for California, Bull. Seism. Soc. Am., 96 (4A), 1483-1501, doi:10.1785/0120050179.

Thompson California Vs30 Model

  • Thompson, E.M. (2018), An Updated Vs30 Map for California with Geologic and Topographic Constraints (ver. 2.0, July 2022): U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7JQ108S.

Selected Publications

  • Jia, Z., & Clayton, R.W. (2021). Determination of Near Surface Shear‐Wave Velocities in the Central Los Angeles Basin With Dense Arrays. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 126.
  • Maechling P, Gill D, Taborda R, Shaw J, Plesch A, Olsen K, Jordan T, and Goulet C (2018) The SCEC UCVM Software Framework for Distributing and Querying Seismic Velocity Models Broadband Platform. Proceedings of the 11th National Conference in Earthquake Engineering, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA. 2018
  • Plesch, A., Thurber, C. H., Tape, C., & Shaw, J. H. (2021, 08). The SCEC CVM effort: basin models, enhanced access and tomographic updates. Oral Presentation at SCEC Annual Meeting.