Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lucky strike: Lightning brings seismic surprise 

Earthquake equipment doesn't fail, instead records complete record of event

Image: Tree struck by lightning
Klaus-G. Hinzen
Lightning struck this tree in Germany causing it to explode. The signatures of the lightning and the tree explosion were detected by a nearby seismometer.
By Contributor
updated 52 minutes ago

As dark clouds rolled in from the west on a July afternoon last year, Klaus-G. Hinzen, a seismologist at the University of Cologne in Germany, knew a big storm was brewing. He was watching from the window of the university's earthquake observatory in Bensberg, a small town outside of Cologne, as lightning struck a nearby hotel. Less than a minute later, a flash took out a tree next to the earthquake lab itself, turning that stormy afternoon into a rare seismic experiment.
"The main experience that we seismologists have with lightning strikes is a very bad one, because it often causes a lot of damage in the equipment. But the equipment didn't fail this time," Hinzen told OurAmazingPlanet. "It's a rare instance that you have a lightning strike so close to so many different seismometers and get a complete record of it."
Hinzen's seismic equipment recorded the lightning strike and its effects in shocking detail.



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