Earthquakes make a noise… they’re just so low frequency that we can’t hear them. Our ears are excellent at picking out strange things or patterns within what would look like noise if you displayed the waveforms visually. So can we use sound to uncover more information within our data than by current data analysis methods? This is how the Seismic Sound Lab started.
Certainly sound adds a more immersive feel to any data visualization. This last month, in the run up to Lamont’s Open House, I’ve been working on developing new visuals for the Sound Lab using Unity 3D. This game engine allows for much more dynamic visuals, and the ability to fly inside a subduction zone. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get the visuals right (they’re still not as good as I want them to be!) but we’ve put together a demo for 17 years of Chilean seismicity that begins to show the capabilities of using gaming software for data viz.
Catalog movie for 17 years of Chilean earthquakes. The surface of the Earth is see-through, the circle at the center is the Earth’s outer core.
The 3-dimensional aspect allows us to show off structures illuminated by earthquake locations. We’re also developing visuals for a number of other significant earthquakes: Parkfield, Sumatra, Haiti, and Tohoku. The later we’re also developing 3D ground motion visualizations and sounds utilizing the Transportable Array. The sounds are still in the works but here’s a preview showing where the TA stations in the Midwest of the USA:
Obviously all the visuals will be developed for the planetarium show! The flythroughs of the subduction zones look really good in the dome, which unfortunately I can’t really show you the full effect here on computer screen, but here’s the general idea:
Lots to do still!