Atlantic 'weather bomb' opens new window on Earth's interior

NASA Earth Observatory

Atlantic 'weather bomb' opens new window on Earth's interior

Earthquakes aren’t the only things seismologists listen for. Over the past decade, they have honed their talent for detecting the seismic waves generated by severe storms, including the echoes of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. Ocean swells from these storms rattle around, creating waves that drum the ocean floor and move into the mantle. They can even be picked up by seismometers on the other side of the world. Until now, this circuitous weather tracking system has mostly been limited to high-speed P waves, which pass through rock with straight compressive force; S waves, with their distinctive perpendicular sashay, have remained elusive. In a new study published this week in Science, however, researchers tracked a 2014 North Atlantic "weather bomb"—a cold-weather cyclone seen here pummeling the United Kingdom—with a pattern of P and S waves, picked up by an array of 202 borehole seismometers in Chugoku district in Japan. The technique, if repeated for other storms, could give geologists a new tool for studying Earth's deep structures.