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Seismograph

Seismograph
Stamp your feet and make a miniature earthquake.

This seismograph is an earthquake detector that records the up-and-down motion of the ground—whether made by tectonic activity or by you.

What’s going on?

This seismograph records ground movements using an electromagnetic motion sensor. The basic components of the motion sensor are a suspended coil of wire and a magnet that’s attached to the floor. When the floor moves, the magnet moves with it, inducing a small electrical current in the coil. An amplifier then boosts this current so it’s strong enough to move the pen on the revolving drum, creating a graph of the motion—also known as a seismograph.

Going further

Seismographs measure not only the seismic waves emanating from an earthquake, but also their precise time of arrival. By comparing the data collected by several seismographs in different places, scientists can determine the true strength of an earthquake and locate its starting point, or epicenter.


IMLS acknowledgment

This web project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-30-16-0175-16].


IMLS acknowledgment

This web project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-30-16-0175-16].