High school pupils have seismic time monitoring earthquakes

Class 2B pupils with the seismic data from the Chilean earthquake. Click on image to enlarge.
Class 2B pupils with the seismic data from the Chilean earthquake. Click on image to enlarge.

Pupils at the Anderson High School in Lerwick have really felt the earth move, after joining the UK Schools Seismology Project last September and having a seismometer running in the school.

The AHS was selected by the British Geological Survey (BGS) to join the project, which supplies schools with free training and equipment to allow them to monitor earthquake activity around the world.

AHS geography teacher Keith Turner joined colleagues from across northern Scotland at the UHI campus in Elgin in October. There he was shown how to operate the seismometer, analyse data and share it with other schools in the project before being sent home with a big box and in-depth instruction manual.

Mr Turner said it had taken a bit of time to find a home for the equipment (the seismometer has to be on the ground flour and on a concrete/stone surface, protected from drafts and dust) and get it connected to the school’s network, but by mid-February it was up and running.

Up until 26th February the seismometer was doing a pretty good job of picking up each change of period in the school, as a couple of hundred pupils move around the building every 55 minutes.

Then over the Lerwick long weekend, the seismometer went into over-drive, picking up data on two earthquakes of the coast of Japan and Taiwan, as well as the massive 8.8 magnitude event in central Chile. The complex data was sent to the BGS office in Edinburgh which commented that it was some of the best they had seen from throughout the schools project.

Mr Turner said the data recorded by the seismometer had generated a great deal of interest in the school. Working alongside the school library staff, there was now an Earthquake Watch club meeting at lunchtimes to monitor activity. The data would also help to invigorate teaching and learning in a range of courses, especially in geography and the new geology short course.

He said: “The seismometer continues to detect global earthquakes greater than a 6.4 magnitude, as well as smaller, local events. On Monday 8th we detected the 5.9 magnitude earthquake in eastern Turkey.

“This is also a great way of highlighting Earth Science to young people, particularly with Shetland’s recent designation as a European Geopark.”


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