Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Seismometer Has Gone Crazy! What's Going On?? (Don't worry, no disasters)

Nothing like putting up a seismometer going crazy to be accused of click-baiting. I mean, what's going on? Is it harmonic tremor, the movement of magma near the surface, ready to cause a catastrophic eruption? Is it a new earthquake swarm? Nah, it's not any of those things. It's education in action.

Our seismometer is a simple version, and the detector is right there in the geology storeroom on the third floor of our science building. It picks up the foot traffic in the corridor outside, so when classes began this week, the unit faithfully recorded the arrival of hundreds of students for the new semester. The large "earthquake" at the very bottom is the exodus of my students at the end of the evening from their class in physical geology.

Welcome all to the new semester!


UCSB Grad said...

Went to school at UC Santa Barbara 73-78. There was a seismometer in the Geology Dept that would record distinctive signatures of incoming swells hitting the shore. When the surfers in the Geology Dept saw that signature they didn’t need to mosey over to the coast and check out the waves, they just grabbed their surfboards and headed for the beach. Science education in action!

Garry Hayes said...

That's hilarious, and I know what you speak of. I was at Santa Barbara City College during the 1980s and remember that swimsuits were occasionally worn in class.