Seismic waves from Tohoku earthquake converted into sound

The seismic waves of an earthquake happen at a lower frequency than what the human ear can hear. But, if you speed up those signals, compressing minutes or even hours worth of data into a few seconds, an audible sound emerges.

Zhigang Peng, associate professor in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has turned the seismic waves from last March's Tohoku earthquake into audio files. The result is powerful, and powerful strange.

Recorded near Fukushima, the main earthquake sounds eerily like a huge wave crashing into a rocky beach. On the other side of the Pacific, in California, that same seismic wave sounds more like a peal of distant thunder. In both cases, the initial impact is followed by a cascade of popping, crashing, scraping, and twisting sounds—like cars being crushed at a junkyard. Those are the noises the Earth makes as tectonic plates shift and settle into their new places.

Check out all of Dr. Peng's audio files.

Via Joe Rojas-Burke