Audio Created From Japanese Seismic Wave Records
March 7, 2012

Audio Created From Japanese Seismic Wave Records

A scientist has converted last year's 9.0-magnitude Tohoku-Oki, Japan earthquake's seismic waves into audio files to allow researchers to "hear" what the quake sounded like as it moved through the earth.

Zhigang Peng, associate professor in Georgia Tech´s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, was able to capture the sound because of thousands of seismometers in the region and Japan's willingness to share their measurements.

“We´re able to bring earthquake data to life by combining seismic auditory and visual information,” said Peng, whose research appears in the March/April edition of Seismological Research Letters, said in a press release.

“People are able to hear pitch and amplitude changes while watching seismic frequency changes. Audiences can relate the earthquake signals to familiar sounds such as thunder, popcorn popping and fireworks.”

The different sounds help explain aspects of the earthquake sequence, including the mainshock and nearby aftershocks.

At the beginning of the recording, a large blast is heard, which is the first point at which the 9.0 magnitude quake occurred.

As the recording continues, more "pop" noises continue to follow the initial blast, which are the aftershocks that resulted from the quake.

Peng also recorded samples of subtle movements in California's San Andreas fault that resulted in the Japan earthquake.

In this recording, the initial noise corresponds with the start of the 9.0 earthquake, followed by a high-pitch sound that represents tremor activity at the fault.

These recordings could help researchers better identify and understanding these seismic signals.

The originally sounds were converted to a faster speed in order to be higher pitch.  This enabled the sounds to be heard by human ears.

The research is published in the journal Seismological Research Letters.


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