Science

Hurricane Sandy Seismic Activity Felt Across U.S.

By Pierre Dumont , Apr 19, 2013 12:37 PM EDT

Hurricane Sandy, the mega storm that took a fateful turn toward the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012, not only caused tremendous damage along the eastern seaboard, but also created produced strong seismic activity as far as Seattle, according to data shown at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting on Thursday April 18.

According to scientists, wave-on-wave collisions caused by the storm resulted in what are known as standing waves that doubled the amount of energy sent toward the seafloor. The pressure directed from the ocean rattled earthquake monitors across the U.S.

"The turning of the storm created strong wave-on-wave interactions that increased the microseism energy," study co-author and director of the University of Utah Seismograph Station Keith Koper told OurAmazingPlanet. "When the storm turned north of the Bahamas, we saw a bump in the microseismic energy, and when it took that sharp left-hand turn, we saw an even bigger bump."

Although Hurricane Sandy was not technically an earthquake, Koper states that its waves were strong enough to produce an earthquake-like effect. He states that the microseisms registered as around a magnitude three earthquake.

Scientists detected the microseisms using Earthscope, a group of around 500 seismometers that measure seismic activity across the U.S. In the future, lead study author and geophysics doctoral student at the University of Utah Oner Sufri plans to use the tremor data to investigate climate change.

"Because these microseisms are happening all over the Earth, we could have a better understanding of climate, ocean and solid-Earth interactions," he said.

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