Southeastern Section - 67th Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 20-14
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


PLEDGER, Jacqueline R., CASTEEL, Thomas J. and BEEBE, D. Alex, Earth Sciences, University of South Alabama, 5871 USA Drive N, Mobile, AL 36688

Earthquake seismology and deep earth geophysics can be difficult concepts to convey to undergraduate students restricted to areas where earthquakes are infrequent or non-existent. In these situations, seismometers that record and display earth tremors in real-time are valuable educational and research tools; however, the cost of acquiring and installing a dedicated seismometer can prove to be a barrier for entry. Here, we investigate the application of the simple vertical seismometer dubbed the “slinky” seismometer, or TC1, for education and research at an undergraduate geology program. The TC1 was selected for use due to its ease of installation, ability to interface with the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology’s (IRIS’s) educational network using jAmaseis software, and low cost of approximately $350. Our TC1 has been operational since February of 2016, and a review of the recorded seismic log indicates that nearly 40 earthquakes have been detected thus far, despite less than ideal recording conditions. A number of earthquakes, including the recent string of Mexico earthquakes during the fall of 2017, provide sufficient data quality for p- and s-wave picking and epicentral distance predictions. While the seismometer provides useful and discussion-provoking examples to connect students to seismology, a number of challenges to data quality and completeness have been identified including: electromagnetic interference, noise from thunderstorms and foot traffic, power-outages, and unscheduled operating system updates on the instrument server. A number of these challenges have been mitigated by moving the seismometer to a protected location closer to the center of the hosting building and switching to a headless raspberry pi as a data server. Despite the obvious limitations of using a slinky to record seismic activity, our observations thus far indicate that the TC1 is a powerful and accessible resource for reinforcing deep seismic curriculum at an undergraduate program.