Listen to the Japanese Earthquake

The Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics (LAB), a unit of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), directed by Professor Michel André, recorded the sound of the earthquake that hit Japan on Friday, March 11, and that recording is now available online to listen to: it is, without a doubt, a unique opportunity.

The recording was provided by a network of underwater observatories that belong to the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and which are located on either side of the epicenter of the quake.

These underwater observatories are also part of the Listening to the Deep Ocean Environment (LIDO) program, a LAB-organised international project which “aims, for the first time ever, to record deep-sea sounds in real time and determine how artificial sounds impact the conservation states of the marine environment,” says Michel André.

Equipped with hydrophones for monitoring underwater sounds in real-time over the internet, the underwater observatories off Japan have been continuously recording the sound of the region, picking up the major earthquake and all its aftershocks.

About the Recording

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).

Source: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)

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