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Andrew Alden

Sonified Earthquakes Are Food for the Ears

By November 17, 2013

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quake sonificationIt's an obvious idea with visceral appeal: how about we take the record of an earthquake—a seismogram—and speed it up so it sounds like regular sound? I've written a new article with more detail on how this project works and what it sounds like.

When played at the right speeds, earthquakes (and infrasound, like the example in the image) sound like some guy banging on old car wrecks in a junkyard, which I think is pretty fascinating. But I pay attention to earthquake science and infrasonics, as I have for several decades, and nobody is presenting talks or posters about this stuff at science meetings. That tells me that seismic sonification is not a breakthrough tool for science. Nevertheless, it's still fascinating for its own sake, and educational, and I hope you'll follow the links in the article and give your ears a treat.
Infrasound from the 1991 Pinatubo eruption


November 22, 2013 at 7:34 pm
(1) Eric Logan says:

I talked to some guys who were on fishing boats off Cape Mendocino California during one of the earthquakes in, I think, 1991, or who had talked to guys who were. The story was that crewmen heard loud grinding or banging noises coming through their hulls. In at least one case the skipper thought the engine was malfunctioning and went into the engine room to check.
One of those quakes permanently raised some intertidal sea bed above sea level.
E Logan

November 23, 2013 at 1:53 pm
(2) Geology Guide says:

It was reported that during the Boston (Cape Ann) earthquake of 1755, ship captains at sea thought they had run aground.

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