What Did the Japan Earthquake Sound Like?
The Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics (LAB), a unit of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), directed by Professor Michel André, has recorded the sound of the 9.0 earthquake that shook Japan last Friday, March 11. You can hear the recording via the Listening to the Deep Ocean Environment (LIDO); the project makes it possible for the public to, as it were, ‘witness’ the earthquake in real time, and to follow its evolution in the form of aftershocks.
According to Professor Andre, LIDO is the first project ever to record deep-sea sounds in real time. The LIDO project also seeks to determine how artificial sounds affect the marine environment and its denizens, such as whales.
Here’s the recording on the LIDO site. Recordings of the earthquake and of two aftershocks can be heard.
The LIDO system collects recordings automatically of the acoustic events detected. These sounds are then identified and classified as being of biological or human-made origin. Cetaceans are affected by noise and certainly by such as was generated by the March 11 earthquake; changes in their behavior can be an indicator of seismic activity.
Science Daily explains more about LIDO:
The system can be used to listen simultaneously to what is happening at different observatories. On March 11, 2011, at 2:45 p.m. Japanese local time, the LIDO system acoustically detected and recorded the earthquake at JAMSTEC observatories located off the coast off Kushiro and Hatsushima. The recording is available on the LIDO website http://listentothedeep.com. The sound of the earthquake and two aftershocks registered by these two Japanese observatories is available in the “Sound Library” section of the website (under “Earthquakes”). The data published there have been accelerated 16 times so that they can be audible to human ears. In the “Listen on Site” section of the same website, visitors can also listen to, and view, a live stream of the acoustic data in which aftershocks are continuously perceptible.
The spectrograms shown on the website reflect, both acoustically and visually, the intensity and energy distribution of the earthquake sound. The images illustrate the frequency and intensity of the sound by means of a spectrum of colors (with red and yellow being the most intense).
The recording was made by a network of underwater observatories belonging to the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). Recordings were made using hydrophones located on either side of the earthquake epicenter, close to the Japanese island of Hatsushima.
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