April 25, 2018
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Seismometer aids UMPI science teachers

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The seismometer at the University of Maine in Orono is not the only instrument in the state recording earthquakes.

Another is located at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

With major earthquakes this year in Haiti and Chile and Sunday’s quake in Baja California, Dr. Chunzeng Wang, assistant professor of earth and environmental science at UMPI, said the seismometer has become an important teaching tool for students.

“Not many people around here, or UMPI students, really, know that we have a seismometer and have had one for several years,” Wang said Tuesday. “It is a great teaching tool for us, especially at a time when earthquakes are in the news and are being studied more and more.”

Wang said the seismometer, located on the second floor of the Northern Maine Museum of Science in Folsom Hall, is connected to the New England Seismic Network, operated by the Weston Observatory at Boston College. Activity picked up by UMPI’s instrument can be seen on the Internet in real time.

The UMPI seismometer not only recorded the recent Baja California earthquake, it also recorded the magnitude 7 Haiti earthquake on Jan. 12 and the magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile on Feb. 27.

During both earthquakes, Wang said, the recordings on the seismometer were “off the charts.”

The recordings are proving valuable in recent lessons.

“I use both the instrument and the recordings that it produces during my classes,” Wang said Tuesday. “It is great to have this, because you can explain why earthquakes occur and show students how a seismometer works. I am able to teach my students how people know that an earthquake has occurred and what one looks like as recorded by a seismometer.”

Wang said he wanted to get the word out about the instrument because he feels “it can be very useful to a number of people around here, including teachers and those interested in weather.”

“Anyone with a computer has access to the readings from UMPI’s seismometer,” he said. “You can see recordings that are archived back to 2006.”

Access to the UMPI seismometer through the Weston Observatory Web site is at http://quake.bc.edu:8000/cgi-bin/NESN/24hr_heli. At the bottom of the page change the Station box to PQI; go to the Frequency box and change it to Long-period. Click Enter.

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