September 4, 2009

Scientists find new way to study quakes

A new method of monitoring earthquakes allows scientists to better understand the behavior of deep tremors, Scottish researchers said.

By studying seismic waves from separate earthquakes, scientists at the University of Edinburgh were able to measure tremors deeper in the Earth than they could with a seismometer, which measures motion on the Earth's surface, Edinburgh geoscientist Andrew Curtis said.

By using earthquakes themselves as virtual microphones that record the sound of the Earth's internal movements, we can listen to the Earth's stretching and cracking from directly within its most interesting, dynamic places, Curtis said.

Monitoring earthquakes this way significantly increases the number of locations that could be used to detect seismic activity and lets scientists monitor tremors far deeper than was previously possible, said Brian Baptie, Seismology Team Leader at the British Geological Survey.

The discovery helps improve our understanding of the processes driving earthquake activity, Baptie said.