Listen to Earthquakes

I’ve been working on a set of scripts that will play sped-up seismograms as sound. I was very proud of myself last night for remembering enough Perl to translate from one format to another, thereby producing clicking noises. Obviously I’m still doing something wrong in the processing necessary to translate from a 10 minute seismogram, recorded at 50 samples/sec to catch interesting stuff that happens at frequencies well below the range of human hearing, to a 5 second audio clip played back at ten thousand or so samples/sec… but hey, clicking noises are better than nothing!

Then I found that someone has set up a blog of “soundquakes”, which automagically generates an entry containing maps, seismograms, and sound files for every M>5 earthquake that occurs anywhere in the world. Très cool. And, way to make me feel inadequate, anonymous Internet gnomes!


  1. BrianR wrote:

    whoa, cool … although when I tried their site a lot of them didn’t work (I didn’t hear anything) … hmmm, maybe I’ll try at home later.

  2. hypocentre wrote:

    I spent a couple of months shut away in a cabin in the remote northwest of England listening to those clicks.

    I was doing some seismic monitoring and the only way to test if the triggering algorithm was working properly on the recording system was to put one channel through a speaker and if I heard a click check it was on the event log.

    By being there, I did manage to discover one source of events was the local missile firing range.

    Further back, in the days of analogue tape recording we used to find the events by listening to the tapes.

  3. Abraham Flaxman wrote:

    Don’t despair, when it comes to making sounds out of science, you can really never be scooped—there is always something more to be done.

    Maybe Fan Chung and Rob Ellis’s project Hear the Graph will inspire you.

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