The Matterhorn Waltz!
Standing at an elevation of 14,692 feet, Switzerland's towering The Matterhorn appears immovable. But an international team of researchers discovered it sways back and forth, about once every two seconds. This perpetual motion creates a monumental waltz caused by seismic energy deep in the earth, created by earthquakes and the world's oceans. The study could assist geologists in predicting rock damage and dangerous mountain landslides triggered by earthquakes. Learn more on NSF's "The Discovery Files."
Credit: National Science Foundation
The Matterhorn Waltz!
Hi! I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.
What you are listening to is the sound of a mountain, gently swaying back and forth. This sound was recorded on Switzerland's The Matterhorn.
Standing at an elevation of 14,692 feet, the towering mountain appears immovable, but an international team of researchers, led by the University of Utah, and supported in part by NSF, discovered The Matterhorn sways, about every two seconds, the movement you're now hearing as sound.
This is perpetual motion, every second of every day. While the degree of motion changes, the shape of the mountain plays a critical role; the monumental waltz being caused by seismic energy deep in the earth, created by earthquakes and even the world's oceans.
The team deployed seismometers at precise locations on the mountain, one delivered by helicopter at its summit, and translated its movement into sound, speeding it up some 80 times, making the vibrating landscape audible to the human ear.
Much like a tuning fork, every object vibrates at certain frequencies when stimulated, a phenomenon also occurring in bridges and high-rise buildings.
The sound The Matterhorn makes is music to the researchers' ears, as it could assist geologists in predicting rock damage and dangerous mountain landslides caused by earthquakes.
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