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The hills are alive with the sound of geophysical data

by Greg Klein | September 25, 2019

Geophysics as music, performed by sax and guitar? You can hear it online, as the U.S. Geological Survey teams up with a group called EMusic to present a webcast on September 29.

The hills are alive with the sound of geophysical data

Geoscientists and musicians alike
benefited from this Colorado VTEM survey.
(Photo: Geotech)

A group of Italian scientists and musicians, EMusic has been staging these performances in Italy and, earlier this month, Australia. They “sonify EM data” by assigning musical pitch to geophysical results, producing a sequence of notes. While maybe refraining from calling that a melody, the band uses those notes as a basis for improvisation “in a sort of natural jam session, where the Earth is the band leader.”

That quote comes from an EMusic paper entitled Diatomites Sound Like a B13 Chord.

This performance uses data from a USGS VTEM survey flown over the area of Crested Butte, Colorado, about 370 kilometres southwest of Denver. Called Colorado Sketches: A Musical Day Trip into the Mountains, the concert takes place here on September 29 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

That might be a long performance, but these geophysical signatures were millions of years in the making.

Watch this short video to learn more about EMusic’s unorthodox approach to communicating earth sciences.


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