Taxonomy term


Seismic waves are blind to water

Geoscientists use the seismic waves produced by earthquakes to image the internal structure of the planet. Some seismic waves travel through liquids, while others do not, which is how we know, for instance, that Earth has a solid inner core and a liquid outer core.

08 Aug 2018

Yellowstone's Mexican mantle plume

The volcanic activity at Yellowstone National Park is impressive, with thousands of active thermal features dotting a nearly 4,000-square-kilometer caldera. Scientists have long suspected that a massive mantle plume underlies the supervolcano. Now, new imaging has provided the clearest picture yet of the heat source that drives Yellowstone’s volcanism.

26 Jun 2018

Earth's "hum" heard at ocean bottom

Lapping waves or crashing surf may come to mind for most people when they imagine the sounds of the ocean. But the ocean has other voices as well, including one produced by interactions of waves with the seafloor along the continental slope. Unlike waves on the shoreline, this steady, low sound, or “hum,” is inaudible to the human ear and has even proven difficult to detect in recordings made by ocean bottom seismometers (OBS). But in a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers analyzing OBS data have now clearly identified the hum for the first time, which may allow it to be used to develop a better picture of Earth’s interior structure.

04 Apr 2018

Measuring earthquakes using fiber-optic cables

Fiber-optic cables crisscross the world, ferrying digital data and enabling internet access and telecommunication. In a new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers tested whether fiber-optic cables can also be used to detect and measure earthquakes.

23 Mar 2018

New Zealand quake triggers two large slow-slip events

On Nov. 14, 2016, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck near Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island, setting off a cascade of fault ruptures in the region. Within hours, seismic waves from the quake triggered a two-week-long slow-slip event on a section of the Hikurangi Subduction Zone between 250 and 600 kilometers north of the initial epicenter, as well as ongoing slow slip on the Hikurangi beneath New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. Thanks to New Zealand’s advanced seismic and tectonic monitoring networks, the event is one of the best-documented examples of an earthquake triggering slow slip on distant faults.

21 Dec 2017

Seismic patterns help forecast eruptions from quiet stratovolcanoes

Earth is home to more than 1,500 potentially eruptive volcanoes on land, each with a unique character and history. Predicting when and how a particular volcano may erupt is notoriously difficult, in large part because each eruption is unique. Recent work tracking pre-eruptive seismic behavior beneath two dozen reawakened volcanoes has revealed a distinctive pattern that seismologists may be able to use to assess when — and how violently — a rumbling volcano could blow its top.

24 Nov 2017

Imaging Iceland's volcanic roots

Home to more than 30 active volcanoes, Iceland is one of the most vigorous volcanic settings on Earth. A new look at the core-mantle boundary thousands of kilometers below the island is offering one of the most complete pictures yet of how Iceland’s volcanoes are fueled.

21 Nov 2017

Desktop seismology: How a maker-inspired device is changing seismic monitoring

The Raspberry Shake — a personal seismograph invented in 2016 and named after the computer that powers the instrument (the Raspberry Pi) — was intended for hobbyists. But the device’s usefulness quickly became apparent to a much wider audience, including scientists and educators around the world. 
16 Nov 2017

Small-scale factors influence mantle flow under the seafloor

In December 2011, scientists and technicians aboard the research vessel Marcus G. Langseth dropped several ocean-bottom seismometers into the deep Pacific more than 1,900 kilometers southeast of Hawaii to measure seismic activity and electrical conductivity to a depth of about 300 kilometers below the seafloor. Now, these measurements are providing new insights into how the mantle flows and deforms below the rigid tectonic plates that make up Earth’s surface.

22 Nov 2016

Firefighting gets a leg up from earthquake sensor networks

Seismic networks monitor ground motion in earthquake-prone regions like California and Nevada. Now, they may also help combat other natural hazards like wildfires, which are especially common in drought-stricken western states where parched landscapes create ideal conditions for fires to spread.

19 Aug 2016