An ANU-coordinated program that will establish a network of 40 seismometers in schools across Australia by 2014 was recently launched at MelroseHigh School by Senator Kate Lundy.
Melrose High School is one of the pilot sites in AuScope’s Australian Seismometers in Schools (AuSIS) network. The AuSIS program started in January, with four test instruments installed in the ACT, including two in high schools – Melrose High School and Daramalan College.
Dr Natalie Balfour from the Research School of Earth Sciences, part of the ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, coordinates the program.
“The program allows students to apply what they learn in earth sciences and physics to what they record with the seismometer. It inspires the next generation of geoscientists. They’re amazed at how they can record seismic waves at their school from earthquakes as far away as Chile,” Dr Balfour said.
“Earthquakes that we don’t hear about on the news happen all the time – in the ocean, in unpopulated areas – and students can raise community awareness of regional earthquakes. They get so excited when they check the monitors to see if there’s been an earthquake – or if it was just a car or truck going past.”
ANU Professor Malcolm Sambridge, AuSIS program director, said the data that will be sent from the network of schools to international data centres in near real time will help to image the earth’s interior in three dimensions. The data will also be accessible to seismologists the world over.
Dr Bob Haydon, CEO of AuScope, said the project will link into national infrastructure for earth observation and monitoring.
“Perhaps the most under-appreciated of the characteristics of the Australian crust is its stability. Australian communities will require increasingly better understanding of stability and spatial positioning in order to develop many of our new resource systems whether water, minerals or energy related,” he said.
“Strategies to utilise these resources must be underpinned by the highest quality geo-scientific information, which will be only delivered through improved monitoring networks. Only then can decisions be made that will foster sustainable development of the resource into the future, whilst delivering the highest possible value to society and the environment.”
The network is part of the Australian Geophysical Observatory Program (AGOS) and is funded under the Education Investment Fund. AuScope was awarded $23m for the AGOS Program and $1.7m of the overall investment has been directed to the Australian Education Observatory that runs the AuSIS project.