Seismic Sound Lab: Sights, Sounds and Perception of the Earth as an Acoustic Space

  • Benjamin HoltzmanEmail author
  • Jason Candler
  • Matthew Turk
  • Daniel Peter
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8905)


We construct a representation of earthquakes and global seismic waves through sound and animated images. The seismic wave field is the ensemble of elastic waves that propagate through the planet after an earthquake, emanating from the rupture on the fault. The sounds are made by time compression (i.e. speeding up) of seismic data with minimal additional processing. The animated images are renderings of numerical simulations of seismic wave propagation in the globe. Synchronized sounds and images reveal complex patterns and illustrate numerous aspects of the seismic wave field. These movies represent phenomena occurring far from the time and length scales normally accessible to us, creating a profound experience for the observer. The multi-sensory perception of these complex phenomena may also bring new insights to researchers.


Audification Sonification Seismology Wave field visualization 



We have the good fortune of working with Pritwiraj Moulik, Anna Foster, Jin Ge, Yang Zha, Pei-ying Lin and Matthew Vaughan at LDEO and Lapo Boschi at Univ. Paris VI. They have taught us a great deal of Seismology and contributed generously to many aspects of the project. In addition to co-author Daniel Peter, Vala Hjorleifsdottir, Brian Savage, Tarje Nissen-Meyer and Jeroen Tromp have all contributed to bringing SPECFEM and AXISEM into this project. Art Lerner-Lam gave us the initial financial support and scientific encouragement when we began this project for the LDEO Open House in 2006. David Simpson, Douglas Repetto, Nolan Lem, George Lewis and Dan Ellis have provided encouragement and assistance on computer music/sound aspects. Denton Ebel, Carter Emmart and Rosamond Kinzler have made possible bringing this project to the Hayden Planetarium. This work is directly supported by NSF grant EAR-1147763, “Collaborative Research: Immersive Audio\(-\)Visualization of Seismic Wave Fields in the Earth (Earthscope Education & Outreach)” to B. Holtzman and NSF grants ACI-1339624 and ACI-1048505 to M. Turk.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Holtzman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jason Candler
    • 2
  • Matthew Turk
    • 3
    • 4
  • Daniel Peter
    • 5
  1. 1.Lamont Doherty Earth ObservatoryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Tisch School of the ArtsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Astronomy and AstrophysicsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.National Center for Supercomputing ApplicationsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  5. 5.Institute of GeophysicsETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) ZurichZürichSwitzerland

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