2021 Jun 10th

by Dr. Wendy Bohon, IRIS

Seismometers are instruments that measure the motion of the ground and they are most commonly used to measure earthquakes. However, they can detect ground motion caused by just about anything that makes the ground, or the structure where they’re located, move and shake.

There are lots of different types of seismometers, from expensive, complex seismometers used by scientists, to seismometers that you can build yourself, to tiny, relatively inexpensive seismometers that can be set up in a home, school or office!

The neat thing about seismometers is that they detect all sorts of amazing things, from earthquakes and explosions to thunder and rain to washing machines and trains! Check out this list of “wiggles” that have been caught on seismometers around the world.

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s not a seismometer to record it does it even shake the ground?


Don’t rain on my parade


A storm is brewing


Shake, Rattle and Roll!


Is it the weekend yet?


Trains, plows, helicopters and buses, oh my!


Whatcha Building?


Blast off!


Clean up your act!


Get in shape

These seismic recordings were generously supplied by Twitter users around the world using the hashtag #WhatsTheWiggle and were detected on many different kinds of seismometers, including Raspberry Shakes, Slinky seismometers and Lego seismometers. Join the seismic revolution and build or buy a seismometer of your own!