The devastating waves churning against the eastern seaboard during Hurricane Sandy also ignited earthquake detectors as far west as Seattle, according to scientific reports from the University of Utah.
Seismographs throughout the United States picked up frequencies when Sandy’s powerful waves shook across the seafloors of New Jersey and New York.
"We detected seismic waves created by the oceans waves both hitting the East Coast and smashing into each other," said Keith Koper, director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations.
The energy levels of Sandy were similar to earthquakes between 2 or 3 magnitudes, according to University of Utah seismologists. Scientist’s analyzed seismic data before and after the storm decimated the East Coast.
“We were able to track the hurricane by looking at the “microseisms” (relatively small seismic waves) generated by Sandy,” says Oner Sufri, a University of Utah geology and geophysics doctoral student and first author of the study with Koper, in a released statement.
Sandy’s seismic activity caused a massive increase in waves crashing against each other offshore. The result produced “standing waves” that shook the ground of the seafloor sending seismic waves through the earth because of the pressure generated by Sandy.
Earthscope, a network program combining 500 seismometers throughout the country tracked seismic data during Hurricane Sandy.
The network usually tracks energy release from earth’s crust but also picks up seismic waves from hurricanes, tornadoes or mining cave-ins.
By observing the seismic patterns of Sandy, seismologists continually analyze data in the hopes of tracking super storms in the future.
Sufri speculates seismic tracking may pick up observations missed by satellites and help researchers, “understand how climate is changing and how it is affecting our oceans? Are we seeing more intense storms and increasing numbers of storms?”
Koper acknowledged the Sandy study “is exploratory science where we are trying to learn fundamental things about how the atmosphere, oceans and solid Earth interact.”
A video demonstrating the research conducted by the University of Utah regarding the seismic activity of Hurricane Sandy is available by clicking this link http://vimeo.com/63694981