Researchers can now listen to the seismic noise caused by vehicles


The steady flow of vehicles is noisy enough as it is, but it also gives off a type of noise the human ear can’t hear: seismic noise, or the vibration of the ground. Thus, vibrations given off by cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes on the runway among other modes of transportation haven’t really been studied in depth, until now. A team of researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have recently found a way to “hear” those vibrations using 5,300 geophones, screwdriver-like devices used to record ground movements.

Planes, trains and automobiles create the noisy background to our lives–especially in urban areas. In addition to getting us from point A to point wherever-we’re-headed, the swift movement of transportation creates plenty of noise and vibrations. But the low-frequency noise of these vibrations is usually completely unnoticed by humans, until now. Scientists presenting their research at the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) meeting this week announced that they can monitor those vibrations using seismic networks. In this case, the researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography got access to a network of 5,300 geophones (instruments that pick up vibrations in the earth) located in Long Beach, California. The geophones were originally installed as part of an oil and gas survey in the area, but the scientists figured out that in addition to being able to map out likely locations of resources, the network was also able to pick up on the vibrations caused by human transportation.


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