Hurricane Irma Appears So strong That seismometers - Equipment Designed to Measure Earthquakes Are Going Off
Hurricane Irma has become the fiercest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. It is so powerful that it is making seismometers - devices designed to measure earthquakes go off.
British seismologist Stephen Hicks says the Category 5 storm has beenregistering on a Caribbean seismometer for some time. "What we're seeing in the seismogram are low-pitched hums that gradually become stronger as the hurricane gets closer to the seismometer on the island of Guadeloupe," he tells USA Today.
He says the readings are caused by the storm transferring energy into the ground through the high winds, swaying of trees, and crashing of waves into the coastline.
It's not unusual for large storms to register on seismometers for hours to days as they pass over.
"We saw this for Hurricane Harvey on seismometers located close to Houston," he said. In the U.K., wintertime storms can sometimes make it hard for seismologists to see small earthquakes because the noise level generated by storms is so high.
As Irma approaches seismic sensors, "we will see a dramatic increase in the amplitude of the seismic recordings," Hicks said.