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Gallery 3

Quakemaker

Close up image of the seismometer in Quakemaker

Control a seismometer to see how seismic waves appear on a seismogram.

How it works

Jump in front of a seismometer and watch the tremor readout.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • How sensitive is the the seismometer? Can it detect you tapping your toes, or does it only detect stronger vibrations?
  • How would scientists know whether a seismogram is showing normal vibrations caused by human activity and vibrations caused by earth tremors or earthquakes?
  • What's the difference between a seismometer and a seismogram?

Background

The seismometer in the exhibit is detecting the vibrations of the floor. When you jump you make the floor vibrate. The seismometer moves with the floor, but a very heavy weight inside the seismometer tends to stay still. The movement of the seismometer compared to the weight is shown as a wavy trace projected on the wall. The collection and analysis of this information could give early warning of a major disaster.

Finding the science in your world

Seismometers are normally used to detect earth tremors caused by earthquakes and volcanoes. Originally, the seismometer in this exhibit was used to detect tremors at the Mawson Base in Antarctica.

Even though Antarctica has a very sparse human population, it is still an important area for detecting earth tremors and aligning (or triangulating) data with other seismic monitoring stations. By locating and monitoring the epicentre of an earthquake, disaster warnings about aftershocks can be made.