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Geoscience Communication An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-28
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-28
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 17 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

Good Vibrations: Living with the Motions of our Unsettled Planet

Tamsin Badcoe1, Ophelia Ann George2, Lucy Donkin3, Shirley Pegna4, and John Michael Kendall2,a Tamsin Badcoe et al.
  • 1Department of English, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 2School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 3Department of History of Art, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 4Sound Artist, Bristol, UK
  • anow at: Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Abstract. Historical commentary in the aftermath of large earthquakes has frequently noted unscheduled ringing of church bells excited by the shaking around them. These purported unscheduled bell ringing events were caused not only by near earthquakes but also by distant incidents. To investigate this phenomenon, as part of the Brigstow Institute funded Unsettled Planet Project, we installed a state-of-the-art broadband seismometer in the Wills Memorial Building tower to record how Great George (the tower bell) responds to the restless world around him. The installed seismometer has been recording activity around and within the tower on a near continuous basis since 23 March 2018. Here, we present the signals recorded by the seismometer as Great George overlooks the hustle and bustle of the city around him and investigate how connected we are to our unsettled planet, even from our tectonically quiet setting in Bristol. We find that the seismometer not only shows the hem and haw of activity in and around Bristol, but also brings to light earthquakes from as nearby as Lincolnshire, UK, or as far away as Fiji ~ halfway around the world. In order to contextualise our findings, our project also considers what determines how people have responded to earth shaking events, drawing on both historical and recent examples, and looks to contemporary art practice in order to consider how an awareness of our unsettled planet can be communicated in new ways.

Tamsin Badcoe et al.

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Tamsin Badcoe et al.

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Latest update: 07 Jul 2020
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Short summary
We explore how earthquakes affect everyday life through a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates historical, artistic and scientific perspectives. The effects of distant earthquakes are investigated using data collected on a seismometer located in the Wills Memorial Building tower in Bristol. We also explore historical accounts of earthquakes and their impact on society and finally, we use the data collected by the seismometer to communicate artistically the Earth's tectonic movements.
We explore how earthquakes affect everyday life through a multidisciplinary approach that...
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