"If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals, what a safer place this world would be...." E von Muggenthaler, after the 2004 Indonesian earthquake and tsunami. 

Storm detection

Detection of storms using infrasound. This is an excellent article by Alfred Bedard, and Thomas Georges of NOAA's Environmental Technology Laboratory. This article describes the usage of infrasound for the detection of natural events. Page 4 is especially insightful. Additionally please read this paper  

Electromagnetic Storms : conditions : From (NOAA)


Solar X-rays:   

Geomagnetic Field:   


Earthquake and tsunami detection 

The Lamont-Doherty Observatory recorded the sounds of the earthquake.   Click here to hear it and read about their research. Lead researcher Maya Tolstoy states;

"If you were diving even hundreds of miles away you could hear this," said study leader Maya Tolstoy of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "You would hear it as sort of a 'boom."

The sound extend up into the lower thresholds of human hearing, so not only did the animals hear it....It is possible humans could have too.

To view the seismic, hydro acoustic and infrasound data  from the earthquake, go to U. S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command  

The following  article appeared in Yahoo news about animals that detected the earthquake and the tsunami and moved out of harm's way. To find out how they did this from a scientific here   

or go to our Seismic research page

Jim Berkland Earthquake prediction, amongst using other predictors, he looks at the missing pets ads. Domestic pets go missing in far greater numbers just before an earthquake.


(P.S. It's not a sixth sense)

Science - Reuters

 Where Are All the Dead Animals? Sri Lanka Asks

Wed Dec 29, 4:41 AM ET   Science - Reuters

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan wildlife officials are stunned -- the worst tsunami in memory has killed around 22,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast, but they can't find any dead animals.

 Giant waves washed floodwaters up to 2 miles inland at Yala National Park in the ravaged southeast, Sri Lanka's biggest wildlife reserve and home to hundreds of wild elephants and several leopards. "The strange thing is we haven't recorded any dead animals," H.D. Ratnayake, deputy director of the national Wildlife Department, told Reuters Wednesday. "No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit," he added. "I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening." At least 40 tourists, including nine Japanese, were drowned. The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean Sunday, which sent waves up to 15 feet high crashing onto Sri Lanka's southern, eastern and northern seaboard, flooding whole towns and villages, destroying hotels and causing widespread destruction.












Elephants, mole rats, birds, fish, tigers, rhinos, hippo, okapi, giraffe and many other animals use infrasound (sounds below the hearing range of humans) for  communication, detection of prey, or navigation. They do this and/or seismically (felt/heard through the earth), atmospherically, (through the air) and underwater in the case of whales and dolphin and fish.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, and even hurricanes and cyclones generate very loud infrasound. which is why people described the tsunami as a "roar." To find out more about this, Click Here.

The animals would have heard/felt the earthquake and possibly heard or felt the tsunami many minutes or hours before it struck. It is possible they detected the earthquake (plates starting to shift) before the earthquake.

For more information about the abilities of animals, go to our seismic research page; read the following scientific articles, or go to PubMed and type in search words like "animals", "infrasound", "seismic", "earthquakes" etc.

 Seismic properties of Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) vocalizations and locomotion.

J Acoust Soc Am. 2000 Dec;108(6):3066-72.
O'Connell-Rodwell CE, Arnason BT, Hart LA.

Center for Conservation Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California 94305-5020, USA.

Seismic and acoustic data were recorded simultaneously from Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) during periods of vocalizations and locomotion. Acoustic and seismic signals from rumbles were highly correlated at near and far distances and were in phase near the elephant and were out of phase at an increased distance from the elephant. Data analyses indicated that elephant generated signals associated with rumbles and "foot stomps" propagated at different velocities in the two media, the acoustic signals traveling at 309 m/s and the seismic signals at 248-264 m/s. Both types of signals had predominant frequencies in the range of 20 Hz. Seismic signal amplitudes considerably above background noise were recorded at 40 m from the generating elephants for both the rumble and the stomp. Seismic propagation models suggest that seismic waveforms from vocalizations are potentially detectable by instruments at distances of up to 16 km, and up to 32 km for locomotion generated signals. Thus, if detectable by elephants, these seismic signals could be useful for long distance communication.

 The properties of geophysical fields and their effects on elephants and other animals.

Arnason BT, Hart LA, O'Connell-Rodwell CE.

Tezar Inc., Austin, Texas, USA.

Geophysical properties of acoustic, seismic, electric, and magnetic waveforms create opportunities and constraints for animals' communication and sensory monitoring of the environment. The geometric spreading of waves differs; at some frequencies, transmission is most efficient and has minimal noise. The spreading properties of seismic waves favor long-distance propagation for communication and environmental monitoring, and would benefit elephants (Elephas maximus and Loxodonta africana), such as in locating subsurface water. Extending C. E. O'Connell-Rodwell, B. T. Amason, and L. A. Hart (2000), a man jumping at 1.11 km propagated seismic waves at 10-40 Hz. Given the noise of lightning and the Schumann resonances, near field magnetic and electric transmission by animals would be most efficient around 1000 Hz.

Detection of atmospheric infrasound by homing pigeons.
Nature. 1977 Feb 24;265(5596):725-6.
Yodlowski ML, Kreithen ML, Keeton WT.


Infrasound responses in the midbrain of the guinea fowl.

Neurosci Lett. 1984 Aug 24;49(1-2):81-6.
Theurich M, Langner G, Scheich H.

The electrophysiological audiogram of the Guinea fowl has been obtained using auditory evoked potentials from the MLD of unanesthetized birds. In restricted regions of MLD, phase-coupled responses to extreme low-frequency sinusoids (2-10 Hz) could be recorded at moderate intensities. The tonotopy of MLD extends continuously to the infrasound region at the rostrodorsal margin. Single-cell recording of infrasound responses show phase-locked firing of neurons with different phase delays for different cells.


Detection of infrasound and linear acceleration in fishes.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2000 Sep 29;355(1401):1295-8.

Sand O, Karlsen HE.

Department of Biology, The University of Oslo, Norway.

Fishes have an acute sensitivity to extremely low-frequency linear acceleration, or infrasound, even down to below 1 Hz. The otolith organs are the sensory system responsible for this ability. The hydrodynamic noise generated by swimming fishes is mainly in the infrasound range, and may be important in courtship and prey predator interactions. Intense infrasound has a deterring effect on some species, and has a potential in acoustic barriers. We hypothesize that the pattern of ambient infrasound in the oceans may be used for orientation in migratory fishes, and that pelagic fishes may detect changes in the surface wave pattern associated with altered water depth and distant land formations. We suggest that the acute sensitivity to linear acceleration could be used for inertial guidance, and to detect the relative velocity of layered ocean currents. Sensitivity to infrasound may be a widespread ability among aquatic organisms, and has also been reported in cephalopods and crustaceans.


Seeing and not seeing.

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2002 Dec;12(6):728-34.
Kimchi T, Terkel J.

Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.

Recent studies revealed that although subterranean mammals inhabit a dark underground environment, they can still perceive light stimuli and use this to entrain their circadian activity rhythm. Regarding spatial orientation, olfactory and tactile cues are employed for short-distance; whereas for long-distance, subterranean mammals employ the earth's magnetic field and self-generated (vestibular and kinestatic) cues. We suggest that seismic signals, utilized for long-distance communication, might also be used as an echolocation mechanism to determine digging depth and presence of obstacles ahead. Taken together, these mechanisms provide an equally efficient means of overall orientation and communication as those found in sighted mammals.

 Seismic signals in a courting male jumping spider (Araneae: Salticidae).

J Exp Biol. 2003 Nov;206(Pt 22):4029-39.
Elias DO, Mason AC, Maddison WP, Hoy RR.

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Seeley G Mudd Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

Visual displays in jumping spiders have long been known to be among the most elaborate animal communication behaviors. We now show that one species, Habronattus dossenus, also exhibits an unprecedented complexity of signaling behavior in the vibratory (seismic) modality. We videotaped courtship behavior and used laser vibrometry to record seismic signals and observed that each prominent visual signal is accompanied by a subsequent seismic component. Three broad categories of seismic signals were observed ('thumps', 'scrapes' and 'buzzes'). To further characterize these signals we used synchronous high-speed video and laser vibrometry and observed that only one seismic signal component was produced concurrently with visual signals. We examined the mechanisms by which seismic signals are produced through a series of signal ablation experiments. Preventing abdominal movements effectively 'silenced' seismic signals but did not affect any visual component of courtship behavior. Preventing direct abdominal contact with the cephalothorax, while still allowing abdominal movement, only silenced thump and scrape signals but not buzz signals. Therefore, although there is a precise temporal coordination of visual and seismic signals, this is not due to a common production mechanism. Seismic signals are produced independently of visual signals, and at least three independent mechanisms are used to produce individual seismic signal components.

Seismic sensitivity in the desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti): a review.

J Comp Psychol. 2002 Jun;116(2):158-63.
Mason MJ, Narins PM.

Department of Physiological Science, University of California, Los Angeles 90095, USA.

Behavioral and anatomical studies relating to possible seismic sensitivity in the desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti) are reviewed. Field studies in the Namib desert have shown that isolated hummocks of dune grass generate low-frequency vibrations, distinct from the background noise at a distance of many meters. The golden mole apparently uses these cues to orient itself toward the hummocks and the prey species within. An analysis of middle ear morphology suggests that the massive malleus of the golden mole is adapted toward a form of inertial bone conduction, suitable for the detection of seismic cues obtained in this manner. The significance of seismic sensitivity in this golden mole is briefly discussed.

Broadband spectra of seismic survey air-gun emissions, with reference to dolphin auditory thresholds.

J Acoust Soc Am. 1998 Apr;103(4):2177-84.
Goold JC, Fish PJ.

University of Wales Bangor, School of Ocean Sciences, Menai Bridge, Anglesey, United Kingdom.

Acoustic emissions from a 2120 cubic in air-gun array were recorded through a towed hydrophone assembly during an oil industry 2-D seismic survey off the West Wales Coast of the British Isles. Recorded seismic pulses were sampled, calibrated, and analyzed post-survey to investigate power levels of the pulses in the band 200 Hz-22 kHz at 750-m, 1-km, 2.2-km, and 8-km range from source. At 750-m range from source, seismic pulse power at the 200-Hz end of the spectrum was 140 dB re: 1 microPa2/Hz, and at the 20-kHz end of the spectrum seismic pulse power was 90 dB re: 1 microPa2/Hz. Although the background noise levels of the seismic recordings were far in excess of ambient, due to the proximity of engine, propeller, and flow sources of the ship towing the hydrophone, seismic power dominated the entire recorded bandwidth of 200 Hz-22 kHz at ranges of up to 2 km from the air-gun source. Even at 8-km range seismic power was still clearly in excess of the high background noise levels up to 8 kHz. Acoustic observations of common dolphins during preceding seismic surveys suggest that these animals avoided the immediate vicinity of the air-gun array while firing was in progress, i.e., localized disturbance occurred during seismic surveying. Although a general pattern of localized disturbance is suggested, one specific observation revealed that common dolphins were able to tolerate the seismic pulses at 1-km range from the air-gun array. Given the high broadband seismic pulse power levels across the entire recorded bandwidth, and known auditory thresholds for several dolphin species, we consider such seismic emissions to be clearly audible to dolphins across a bandwidth of tens on kilohertz, and at least out to 8-km range.

Low-frequency whale and seismic airgun sounds recorded in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.
J Acoust Soc Am. 2004 Apr;115(4):1832-43.
Nieukirk SL, Stafford KM, Mellinger DK, Dziak RP, Fox CG.

Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 S. Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA.

Beginning in February 1999, an array of six autonomous hydrophones was moored near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (35 degrees N-15 degrees N, 50 degrees W-33 degrees W). Two years of data were reviewed for whale vocalizations by visually examining spectrograms. Four distinct sounds were detected that are believed to be of biological origin: (1) a two-part low-frequency moan at roughly 18 Hz lasting 25 s which has previously been attributed to blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus); (2) series of short pulses approximately 18 s apart centered at 22 Hz, which are likely produced by fin whales (B. physalus); (3) series of short, pulsive sounds at 30 Hz and above and approximately 1 s apart that resemble sounds attributed to minke whales (B. acutorostrata); and (4) downswept, pulsive sounds above 30 Hz that are likely from baleen whales. Vocalizations were detected most often in the winter, and blue- and fin whale sounds were detected most often on the northern hydrophones. Sounds from seismic airguns were recorded frequently, particularly during summer, from locations over 3000 km from this array. Whales were detected by these hydrophones despite its location in a very remote part of the Atlantic Ocean that has traditionally been difficult to survey.


Neural response to very low-frequency sound in the avian cochlear nucleus.

J Comp Physiol [A]. 1989 Nov;166(1):83-95.

Warchol ME, Dallos P.

Auditory Physiology Laboratory, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208.

Recordings were made in the chick cochlear nucleus from neurons that are sensitive to very low frequency sound. The tuning, discharge rate response and phase-locking properties of these units are described in detail. The principal conclusions are: 1. Low frequency (LF) units respond to sound frequencies between 10-800 Hz. Best thresholds average 60 dB SPL, and are occasionally as low as 40 dB SPL. While behavioral thresholds in this frequency range are not available for the domestic chick, these values are in good agreement with the pigeon behavioral audiogram (Kreithen and Quine 1979). 2. About 60% of the unit population displays tuning curves resembling low-pass filter functions with corner frequencies between 50-250 Hz. The remaining units have broad band-pass tuning curves. Best frequencies range from 50-300 Hz. 3. Spontaneous discharge rate was analyzed quantitatively for LF units recorded from nucleus angularis. The distribution of spontaneous rates for LF units is similar to that seen from higher CF units (300-5000 Hz) found in the same nucleus. However, the spontaneous firing of LF units is considerably more regular than that of their higher CF counterparts. 4. Low frequency units with low spontaneous rates (SR's less than 40 spikes/s) show large driven rate increases and usually saturate by discharging once or twice per stimulus cycle. Higher SR units often show no driven rate increases. 5. All LF units show strong phase-locking at all excitatory stimulus frequencies. Vector strengths as high as 0.98 have been observed at moderate sound levels. 6. The preferred phase of discharge (relative to the sound stimulus) increases with stimulus frequency in a nearly linear manner. This is consistent with the LF units being stimulated by a traveling wave. The slope of these phase-frequency relationships provides an estimate of traveling wave delay. These delays average 7.2 ms, longer than those seen for higher CF auditory brainstem units. These observations suggest that the peripheral site of low frequency sensitivity is the very distal region of the basilar papilla, an area whose morphology differs significantly from the rest of the chick basilar papilla. 7. LF units are described whose response to sound is inhibitory at frequencies above 50 Hz.

Microseism and infrasound generation by cyclones.

J Acoust Soc Am. 2003 May;113(5):2562-73.

Bowen SP, Richard JC, Mancini JD, Fessatidis V, Crooker B.

Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois 60628, USA.

A two-dimensional cylindrical shear-flow wave theory for the generation of microseisms and infrasound by hurricanes and cyclones is developed as a linearized theory paralleling the seminal work by Longuet-Higgins which was limited to one-dimensional plane waves. Both theories are based on Bernoulli's principle. A little appreciated consequence of the Bernoulli principle is that surface gravity waves induce a time dependent pressure on the sea floor through a vertical column of water. A significant difference exists between microseisms detected at the bottom of each column and seismic signals radiated into the crust through coherence over a region of the sea floor. The dominant measured frequency of radiated microseisms is matched by this new theory for seismic data gathered at the Fordham Seismic Station both for a hurricane and a mid-latitude cyclone in 1998. Implications for Bernoulli's principle and this cylindrical stress flow theory on observations in the literature are also discussed.



This information is taken from NOAA's  Environmental Technology Laboratory
325 Broadway R/ETL Boulder, Colorado 80305-3328

"Infrasonics Program

Infrasonics is the study of sound below the range of human hearing. These low-frequency sounds are produced by a variety of geophysical processes including earthquakes, severe weather, volcanic activity, geomagnetic activity, ocean waves, avalanches, turbulence aloft, and meteors and by some man-made sources such as aircraft and explosions.

Infrasonic and near-infrasonic sound may provide advanced warning and monitoring of these extreme events.

We are engaged in the development and deployment of infrasonic instruments for detection and monitoring of low-frequency sound generated by several important anthropogenic and geophysical processes. A strong focus is on hazardous geophysical phenomena in order to improve basic knowledge and early warnings. We have demonstrated that avalanches in the Rocky Mountains can be detected and located using an infrasonic array on the plains near Boulder. Using a similar array, we demonstrated that tornadoes on the high plains can be detected several minutes before they touch down, thus demonstrating a valuable tool to provide advanced warning for residents in tornado-prone regions. We conduct theoretical studies of infrasonic source mechanisms in order to optimize systems for detection and identification. The object of one study is the correlation between infrasound, sprites, and other transient, luminescent phenomena associated with severe weather. Another study involves methods to reduce audible noise (such as along highways) using both active and passive techniques. We typically collaborate with other organizations within NOAA, other government agencies, universities, and foreign scientists. For example, we are participating in a cooperative study with Armenian scientists researching earthquake precursors, and the we have been requested to assist with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty monitoring system. We also collaborate with other research groups in field experiments, e.g., involving Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) and Lidar. Potential research and development include: infrasound observations from Peacewing platforms, infrasound measurements of other planetary atmospheres, and ocean wave generated infrasound with a focus on tsunami detection.

BACK to Info

Online Publications:
Frequently Asked Questions about Tornadoes
Atmospheric Infrasound, A.J. Bedard Jr. and T. M. Georges, Physics Today, March 2000. (18M PDF)

Infrasonic and Near Infrasonic Atmospheric Sounding and Imaging A.J. Bedard Jr. Proc. Progress in Electromagnetics Research Symposium, 13-17 July 1998, Nantes, France, 4th International Workshop on Radar Polarimetry (1998)

Project MCAT (Mountain Induced Clear Air Turbulence): Background, Goals, Instrumentation and Methodologies A.J. Bedard Jr. and P. Neilley, Proc. 8th Conf. Mountain Meteorol., Flagstaff, AZ, Aug 3-7, 1998. "







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