World’s Oldest Seismic Lab in Germany Creates Tiny, Artificial Earthquakes by Dropping a 4 Ton Steel Ball

4 Ton Earthquake Ball

In an earthshaking episode of “Built for Science“, host Tom Scott traveled to Göttingen, Germany to visit the oldest working seismic lab, where they create tiny earthquakes by dropping a four ton steel ball off of a tower that is 14 meters (46 feet) high. The information that these artificial earthquakes provide information of what’s happening beneath the ground in all directions.

Earth tremors moved through the ground in two ways the P waves or primary waves compress the ground back and forth in the direction that the wave is traveling, squeezing it together. Traveling slightly slower are the S waves the secondary waves which shear the ground side-to-side and those waves behave differently in duration and wavelength and intensity depending on the ground they’re traveling through.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.