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August 2, 2013

The jiggling Earth, or, what are all those squiggles?

Ever since we first formally recorded one more or less a century and a score ago, the seismogram of an earthquake has become an iconic symbol. Oversimplified and unrealistic ones abound, but natural seismograms of earthquakes are distinctly identifiable. Despite the unique details of every earthquake, seismograms around the world are phenomenally similar. The differences among them are actually what allow seismologists to understand the propagation of earthquakes and the structure …


June 22, 2012

40 years of earthquakes on one seismogram

Want to see the pulse of the Earth? Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory (ASL), a facility in the quiet mountains of New Mexico that is used by the USGS as a hub to maintain both the instruments and data transmission capabilities of the global (GNS) and national (ANSS) seismic networks. The ASL is used to develop new seismograph technology and to test and calibrate instruments …


March 12, 2011

Japan quake felt over >2500km radius

One of the many remarkable features about this planet’s largest quakes (like the one that just happened in Japan) is their truly global effect. Be it the tsunami or seismic waves perceptible and imperceptible, most parts of the planet have been touched significantly by the 8.9. Let’s start with perceptible seismic waves, i.e., ones people don’t need sensitive instruments to detect. The elastic energy released by this earthquake was enough …