Tectonic Basin

by Ned Kahn

When the earth rumbles and shakes, even soil that seems solid can boil and flow like a liquid. Here, vibrating particles of red garnet sand run together, creating unstable mounds that grow and fall. Spread the sand out thinly with your hand and watch as little islands gather, streaming rhythmically away from the areas where the vibration is most violent. The patterns in the sand are created by a complex series of interactions: the continuous vibration changes the shape of a mound; in response, as the shape of the mound changes, so does its reaction to the vibration.

audio tour for the Tectonic Basin exhibit...

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The Exploratorium, 1996