Tuesday, March 11, 2014

California's 6.9 Magnitude as Recorded at Modesto Junior College

Here is California's 6.9 magnitude earthquake from last Sunday as recorded on our rather simple seismometer situated on the West Campus of Modesto Junior College. The unit is up on the third floor of the new Science Community Center, which is not ideal from a recording standpoint (the building is subject to all kinds of vibrations), but it's wonderful as an educational tool. We have one of the monitors up against a window where students can check for earthquake activity (and of course jump up and down to make their own earthquakes). The activity across the bottom of the record is the vibration of students walking by on Monday morning. This is the first major seismic event that we've recorded since installing the unit.

The horizontal lines on the monitor represent one hour increments, so the whole screen covers about 24 hours. The quake happened at 10:18 PM local time, and the shaking lasted for a good fifteen minutes. This doesn't mean that people were being shaken the whole time, because the actual humanly perceived shaking lasted only about 15 seconds. Instead, the ground continued to reverberate more slowly, so the movement was imperceptible. The waves would have continued all over the world and through the planet as well. They would have been detectable on a seismometer in India or Africa.

Here is the isolated and expanded version of the event. It covers about eleven minutes of the shaking:

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