AIR Currents

Earthquake waves are silent

September 19, 2013

Did you know that earthquake waves are silent? Most seismic waves have a frequency of less than 20 Hz, which is below the range that humans can detect. What is actually heard during an earthquake is the rumbling of buildings and contents as the waves pass through solid matter.

Researchers can speed up seismograph recordings to bring them into the audible frequency range. Click below to listen to a ground motion recording from the 2011 M9.0 Tohoku earthquake, sped up 30 times.

earthquake waves  

Source: Peng, Z., C. Aiken, D. Kilb, D. Shelly, B. Enescu (2012), Listening to the 2011 magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki, Japan earthquake, Seismol. Res. Lett., 83(2), 287-293, doi: 10.1785/gssrl.83.2.287. , and Kilb, D., Z. Peng, D. Simpson, A. Michael and M. Fisher (2012), Listen, watch, learn: SeisSound video products, Seismol. Res. Lett., 83(2), 281-286, doi: 10.1785/gssrl.83.2.281.



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