Creating music and art with seismic waves!

2022 Jun 7th

Some enterprising individuals — scientists who love to create music and artists who seek unique sources of sounds — use seismic waves to produce music by speeding up the playback of data recorded by seismic sensors so that it is in the audible range that people can hear.

Take, for example, Stuart Hyatt, an American musician and artist, who used data recorded by a 280-station seismic array in Alaska and Northwestern Canada to create the exhibit 'Stations' currently on display at the Anchorage Museum. 'Stations' is a sculptural installation that combines the scientific method with the creative process, engaging visitors with a new type of subterranean map.

Seismic Sound Lab

Seismologist Ben Holtzman of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory runs the Seismic Sound Lab. Dr. Holtzman and his collaborators develop methods for sonic and visual representations of natural data. The Seismic Sound Lab website has videos of induced seismicity from wastewater injection, the eruption of Kilauea volcano, hurricanes (yes, seismic stations can record ground motions from very strong winds!) and much more.


IRIS Data Services has also created an audio/video-based data product, SeisSound, that illustrates the temporal evolution of the frequency and amplitude content of a seismogram. The small repository of videos includes a landslide and tsunami event in Greenland, a North Korean nuclear test, and the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers.