Friday, December 14, 2012

Super Typhoon Bopha

Over the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing data products from our Super Typhoon Bopha data set. Bopha began as a tropical storm east of our array in Palau, and intensified as it narrowly missed Palau on its way to the Philippines. ISLA staff were recently in Palau to upgrade an IMS infrasound station (International Monitoring System). The last of the field crew, (including yours truly) completed the work and left just 2 days before the arrival of Typhoon Bopha. We will be presenting products from this exciting data set recorded with our newly upgraded system.

More information on the array

This is the first of our data products. This audio file is 24 hrs of data from 00:00:00 UTC on December 2, 2012. It has been sped up by a factor of 2200 resulting in a ~39 second clip.

From 0-10 seconds you can hear the typhoon approach the island
Around 12 seconds, signal from the high period surf becomes noticeable
Around 30 seconds, signal from long period surf becomes noticeable

We recommend playing this track several times, and using different EQ settings. We have been having fun playing it on different systems with different frequency responses.

For those interested in waveforms, this signal has been band-pass filtered from 40Hz to 6kHz after being sped up by a factor of 2200. This maps the 0.2 Hz microbarom (ocean storm) peak to 440Hz (a concert A).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Tale of the Haunted Laboratory

The Tale of the Haunted Laboratory 
An infrasound ghost story 

A retelling (with some creative license) of the “Ghost in the Machine
Published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 62, No 851 April 1998 by Vic Tandy and Tony R Lawrence of Coventry University.

Not too long ago, in a lab not too far away there was a haunting. This lab was a spacious playground for engineers, and housed many odd contraptions. But this isn’t a story about what work went on in the lab, this is a story about the haunting of this lab.

One morning an engineer arrived early to find a distressed cleaner. When he talked to the cleaner she admitted that she was shaken up due to having felt a presence in the lab. Not only that, she claimed to have seen something. Our engineer does not believe in ghost or supernatural things and just shrugged the incident off.

However, soon he, too, was noticing things. He sensed an odd dark mood in the room, almost depressing. Occasionally he had a cold shiver, or a feeling that someone was standing right beside him, but the closest person was across the room. These observations were made by all three regular inhabitants of this lab.

A feeling of unease and discomfort about this particular lab began to grow, and then to spread. However the workers were very busy people and tried their best to ignore it.

One night,

our engineer was working late

… alone.

Even though he was sweating he began to feel cold, he felt depressed, groans and creaks from the empty factory that housed the lab only added to his growing discomfort. But there was also something else. He kept feeling that there was someone in the room, but that was impossible. There was no way for anyone to enter or exit the lab without walking past his desk.

And yet…the feeling was there.

This being a lab, there were all sorts of gasses and chemicals around that if inhaled could cause all sorts of problems. He began to check everything in lab to make sure nothing was leaking. Everything was fine, everything looked normal. Annoyed with himself he went and got a cup of coffee, tried to laugh it off and went back to work.

And then

It happened

He began to feel like he was being watched…


To his left a figure emerged! It was faint and on the periphery of his vision but it moved, and it moved JUST LIKE A PERSON! It was gray and made no sound but there it was, moving towards him. The hairs on his neck were standing straight up, and he was terrified! Slowly, he worked up the courage to face this apparition. As he slowly turned his head the figure vanished, leaving no evidence of its existence.

Badly shaken from this experience, he quickly called it a night and went home.

Now our story could end there with the mysterious ghost apparition in the lab, appearing late at night when you are working alone, and vanishing when you look at it. But that is not the end of our story, no, for he IS an engineer and the very next day he was back in the lab.

Now he was entering a fencing competition and had some work to do on his blade. He didn’t have to do this in the lab, but decided there was plenty of room and all the tools he needed, so he decided to bring his supplies into the lab to do this work. He placed the blade in a vise on a table in the middle of the lab and left it to go look for something else he needed in order to finish this work.


… something ...


When he returned, the free end of the blade was violently vibrating! Given the events of the previous night he was understandably terrified! However, this being daylight hours and being an engineer, he took a deep breath and composed himself and curiosity took over. What was making the blade move? The blade had to be receiving energy from somewhere in order for it to move in such a manner! This energy had to have a varying intensity at a rate that was precisely that of the resonant frequency of the blade. This type of energy is known as sound. He took stock of the sounds he could hear in the room. A lab can be a very noisy place, but an engineer also knows that there is sound we can’t hear, frequencies too low for humans to resolve. He starts to experiment with the hypothesis that what is causing his blade to move is this low frequency sound known as infrasound. 

He moved the blade around the room noticing the amplitude of the vibrations and found that in the center of the lab it was the largest, and that the vibrations in the blade stopped all together at the far end of the lab. Curious! Then it hit him! A low frequency standing wave! He did some quick calculations to see what frequency this wave would be given the size of the lab (see actual paper). This quick calculation resulted in a wave of approximately 18.89 Hz or 18.89 cycles per second which is below the lower end of human hearing at 20 Hz.

“So…” he thought “we are sharing the lab with a 19Hz wave. But where is it coming from and what do these sorts of waves do to people?”

Our engineer quickly found the source of this wave. A quick round of questions revealed that a new fan had recently been installed at one end of the lab. When this was switched off the vibrations in his blade vanished. That problem solved he began to research what sort of effects these waves have on humans.  This involved a bit of research.

There was a report of workers in a factory reporting that a specific bay made them feel uneasy. This was explained by a higher level of low frequency sound in that area of the factory due to a fan in the AC system. There was also a report of a group of workers at a university who all reported the same uneasy feeling and dizziness when a specific fan was turned on. These cases were explained by low frequency sound in the 15-20Hz range.

But what about the apparition that appeared? Further research produced a resonance frequency of the human eyeball in a NASA report! 18Hz causes the eyeball to vibrate and created a smearing of vision.

He had identified his ghost. It was a standing wave caused by a new fan in the lab.

Now for the exorcism! A modification was made to the mounting of the fan and the standing wave, ghost, uneasy feeling, and chills vanished from the lab!

So next time you think you see a ghost, remember it might just be infrasound!

(This story was a retelling of the excellent paper written by our hero Vic Tandy and Tony R Lawrence about an experience that V. Tandy had while working in the lab mentioned in this story.  Their paper “Ghost in the Machine” is an excellent read, and one of my favorite infrasound stories. I decided it could use a Halloween spin! I hope you enjoyed this little ghost story!) 

Friday, August 17, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 9

Aloha! This is the 9th video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound. 
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!Dr. Milton Garces presents the conclusions derived from the series of surf infrasound experiments.

Closing credits for the surf infrasound documentary. Grinding surfing footage from one of the smaller days of our experiment in Kauai.

Friday, August 10, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 8

Aloha! This is the 8th video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound. 
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!Dr. Milton Garces describes the surf infrasound deployment at Temae Beach, Moorea, French Polynesia.

Friday, August 3, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 7

Aloha! This is the 7th video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound. 
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!Dr. Milton Garces describes the surf infrasound deployment at Polihale Beach, Kauai. We captured the infrasound from a massive swell, with 40ft peeling waves!

Friday, July 27, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 6

Aloha! This is the 6th video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound. 
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!Dr. Milton Garces describes a surf infrasound experiment at Makalawena Beach, Hawaii.

Friday, July 20, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 5

Aloha! This is the 5th video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound.
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!

Dr. Milton Garces explains the sonification of infrasound. The surf sounds on this clip get deeper, crossing over to the inaudible.

Friday, July 13, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 4

Aloha! This is the fourth video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound. 
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend! Dr. Milton Garces describes some of the advantages of using infrasound arrays.

Friday, July 6, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 3

Aloha! This is the third video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound. 
 Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!
  Dr. Milton Garces outlines possible source processes for surf infrasound.

Friday, June 29, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 2

Aloha! This is the second video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound. 
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!

Dr. Milton Garces discusses the infrasonic signature of individual breaking ocean waves.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ALOHA video Fridays: Surf infrasound part 1

Aloha! This is the first video in a series of 9 on surf infrasound.
Enjoy, and have an excellent weekend!
Welcome to the world of infrasound! Volcanoes, severe weather, tsunamis, meteors, earthquakes, and all large things that blow up can produce inaudible atmospheric sound, which can be recorded by a global microphone network. In this clip, Dr. Milton Garces introduces low-frequency acoustics as background to surf infrasound studies.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From the sensor to the concert hall

I am very excited to share the following with you! At 9:30 PM on the night of February 3, 2012 two rockfalls occurred into the Halema'uma'u Vent at Kilauea Volcano. These events were reported by HVO and recorded at our station (MENE) in Volcano, HI. This event has now been given new life as the inspiration for a percussion sextet. 

I am very happy to share with you "Volcano Music Mvt. II" by Jason Thompson for percussion sextet. Please go to his site and listen to the piece and read his program notes. 
UPDATE: unfortunately this piece is no longer available online. 

The following information and sound files are what was sent to Jason Thompson, and were used to create this wonderful artistic interpretation of a real event.



We generally try to clean our tracks up a bit, and the post processing procedure used here can be found in the following report. 

(This report is also available in pdf format on Jason Thompson's website and upon request. Just shoot me an email!)

Volcanic Infrasound Event VIE120203 Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea, Hawaii

Source: Halemaumau crater, Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii
Location: Halemaumau Crater
Origin time:  03 February 2012 09:30:00 PM HST, 03 February 2012 07:30:00 GMT. All times in narrative are GMT. 
Description: Two rock falls into the Halemaumau Crater were reported by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Appendix A) on the night of 02 February 2012 (HST). Associated infrasonic signals were recorded at the local network.
Data Quality: Collapses occurred in the quiet of the night, with very little wind and surf noise.
Method Summary:  The initial signal characterization used automated analysis tools implemented at ISLA. These include array processing and spectral plots. Further characterization was completed with the aid of logarithmic scale spectrograms.

1. Instrumentation
The MENE infrasound array has a 24-bit Reftek 130 digitizer recording four Chaparral 2.2s and one Chaparral 50 infrasonic microphones at 40 samples/second. The Chaparral 2.2s are located at elements 1-4 and have a flat response down to 0.1Hz, and the Chaparral 50 is collated with MENE1 at element 5 and has a flat response down to 0.02Hz. Array processing returns the direction of arrival of infrasonic signals as a function of frequency, which allows a clear azimuthal and spectral separation of source regions.

2. Chronology
The sequence of events for the Signals of Interest (SOI1 and SOI2) can be seen in Figure 1, and are described below. Figure 2 shows the signals recorded by the array spanning the times for both signals of interest.  Figures 3 and 4 are logarithmic spectrograms, and figures 6 and 7 show a four minute window around the signals of interest.

1)  Between 1800 and 2200 GMT of 2 Feb 2012 we have a partition of energy between the Pu’u O’o Crater complex and the Halemaumau vent, with a clear frequency and azimuth separation.
2)  From around 2100 of 2 Feb 2012 to around 0315 of 3 Feb 2012 we see the emergence of several harmonics above 1 Hz. Array detections are predominantly from Halemaumau.
3)  From 0315 GMT to ~0615 there is a drop in the overtones, ~1.5 Hz signal stays, there is temporary drop in the total number of Halemauamau detections, then the ~1.5 Hz signal strengthens and detections pick back up
4)  After ~0615 GMT even the ~1.5Hz signal shuts off, and there is a transition to deeper frequencies that lasts around 10 minutes. The soundscape becomes ominously quiet above 1Hz, while there is an increase in observed detections from the Pu’u O’o azimuth.
5)  First collapse signal is at 07:29:20, and the second at 10:06:15. Both of these signals are broadband and extend down to .02Hz (Figure 3), there is a change in harmonic structure, with harmonics present below the ~1.5 Hz band and above the microbarom. Pu’u O’o detections continue and are joined by Halemaumau.
6)  There is a small event at 1500 which may be seismic or volcanic in origin.
7)  After 1600 to the end of the study period, Halemaumau quiets down while Pu’u O’o resumes radiation, but drops to a lower frequency.

3. Sound Editing
I select the 24h time period of 3 February, with Halemaumau as the initial prevailing volcanic source. We preserve all features in the original data by assigning it different sample rate of 8 kHz and 44kHz, essentially speeding up the raw data by a factor of 200 and 1102.5 times the original time. We use channel MENE5 because of its better performance down to 0.02 Hz (50 second periods). The resulting waveforms are shown in Figure 7.

A time compression of 200x maps 0.02 Hz to 4 Hz, which is below the response of most commercial speakers. It will map the 0.4 - 5 Hz volcanic bandpass typical of Kilauea to 80 - 1000 Hz. For this event, there are very interesting features beyond this bandpass that we would like to preserve.

A time compression of 1102.5 maps 0.02 Hz into 22 Hz, which good subwoofers can reproduce. It also maps 5 Hz to 5.512 kHz, well within the range of most speakers.

Master 8 kHz wave file, MENE5BDF2012020300_8khz.

3.1. Remove data gaps, clean attack and fade, save as esound_vie120203_8khz.wav.

3.2. ID neat signal at ~4:30 from origin, corresponding to small event at 1500 GMT. Sounds like a pop and a woosh.

3.3. Lowpass below 1500 Hz up to dusk (0-1:52) and leading up to the first small burst, and after 3:40 when helicopters start up again. Save as esound_vie120203_8khz_lp.wav.

3.4. Highpass above 80 Hz, which removes the microbarom band. Rescale by -12dB. Save as esound_vie120203_8khz_bp_sc.wav
Keeps only the volcanic signal and removed ocean and wind noise in the low register and aircraft noise in the high registers.

3.5. Now that I’ve deconstructed the sound, pick a dull noise segment and deconvolve it from the original esound_vie120203_8khz.wav. Rescale, clean up, save as esound_vie120203_8khz_decon.wav. Remove aircraft by lowpass filtering below 1500 Hz, and save as esound_vie120203_8khz_decon_lp.wav

Figure 1. Results from the automatic processing. Top panel is a linear-frequency spectrogram of MENE1, and lower panel is the array processing detections using PMCC3. Events 1-4 are illustrated with colored boxes. (1) Green: detections from Halemaumau, harmonics above 1Hz. (2) Red: decrease in harmonics above 1Hz besides the ~1.5Hz band and initial decrease in Halemaumau detections with a pickup of Pu’u O’o detections. (3) Yellow: drop in ~1.5Hz band and VLP/ULP event  over a 10minute span, Pu’u O’o detections and break in Halemaumau detections. (4) Blue: SOI-1 with associated coda, and harmonics, SOI-2 and stronger coda in both low and high frequency, detections from Pu’u O’o and Halemaumau.
Figure 2. Time series around the two signals of interest. Note the difference between the Chaparral 2.2s (1-4) and the Chaparral 50 (5). Next figures use only MENE1 and MENE5.
 Figure 3. Log-frequency spectrogram from MENE5 over .02Hz to 10hz. Note that SOI-1 and SOI-2 extend down to the lower bound at .02Hz. Also note the changes in harmonic structures over the time period.
Figure 4. Log-frequency spectrogram from MENE1 over .1 to 10Hz. Also note the change of harmonic structures.
Figure 5. Four minutes surrounding the first signal of interest with initial downward deflection and longer low-frequency coda.
Figure 6.  Four minutes surrounding the second signal of interest with a compressional onset and a higher frequency coda.
Figure 7. Original waveform and time-compressed .wav files.

Appendix A
Friday, February 3, 2012 7:02 AM HST (Friday, February 3, 2012 17:02 UTC)

19°25'16" N 155°17'13" W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Past 24 hours at Kilauea summit: The summit tilt network continued to record DI deflation punctuated with two abrupt positive offsets due to large rockfalls from the vent rim (Halema`uma`u Crater floor) into the lake at 9:30 pm and midnight; the first collapse involved a portion of the north rim while the second took a long sliver of the northeast rim; the first collapse apparently induced secondary collapses of the inner ledge and ejected hot spatter onto the nearby portions of the Halema`uma`u Crater floor; the second collapse deposited a large amount of debris into the northeast side of the lava lake. Both collapses severely disrupted the lava lake with the second significantly dropping the level which was slowly recovering lost elevation this morning. The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 600 tonnes/day on January 30, 2012.

Seismic tremor levels dropped when a small spattering source appeared on the north rim of the lake at 8:20 pm last night and remained low with the two large rockfall seismic signals superimposed. Ten earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea volcano: one north of and one beneath the summit caldera, one within the upper east rift zone, and seven on south flank faults.

Background: The summit lava lake is deep within a ~150 m (500 ft) diameter cylindrical vent with nearly vertical sides inset within the east wall and floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. Its level fluctuates from about 70 m to more than 150 m (out of sight) below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. The vent has been mostly active since opening with a small explosive event on March 19, 2008. Most recently, the lava level of the lake has remained below an inner ledge (75 m or 250 ft below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater) and responded to summit tilt changes with the lake receding during deflation and rising during inflation.

Friday, June 15, 2012

ALOHA video Friday - Song of Pele

Here is a video clip from the lab vaults. This one is from the PBS show Kilauea: Mountain of Fire that aired on PBS Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, sings a continuous chorus beneath the surface of the Earth. Geophysicist Milton Garces uses infrasonic technology to listen in on whats happening in Kilauea's lava tubes. 


Friday, June 8, 2012

Fridays are ALOHA video Fridays! (until I run out of videos...)

Aloha! It is Friday!
I thought it would be fun to share some of the multimedia content our lab has released over the years.

So here is a video from the 2011 PopTech conference given by the one and only Isoundhunter (and my boss).

Primordial sounds

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What is infrasound?

(Note, this will also be posted under the "What is infrasound?" tab for the blog for quick and easy reference!)

What is infrasound? An ongoing, never ending, quest to explain what we do…. 
"In the grand scheme of things we're all pretty much blind and deaf" by Abstruse Goose

This comic from Abstruse Goose is a good place to start. Take a second to acclimate yourself to the ranges of light and sound that we cannot perceive. That low end of sound is the area we are going to explore.
Infrasound is technically any “sound” below 20Hz. I don’t blame you if that makes zero sense. So let’s start with what sound is. Sound is an oscillation of pressure. Our ears detect these vibrations and our brains translate these signals into what we hear. Sound is a wave.

There are several different parameters we use to describe waves. The most important (for reading this blog) is frequency. Frequency can also be seen as the x axis on the above figure, using the unit Hz. Hertz (Hz) is cycles per second. The following figure will help illustrate how waves of similar amplitude look when they differ in frequency. 

There are several sine waves in the above diagram with one thing different about them. Let’s say that these waves are all 1 second long. That means the X axis is time and the Y is amplitude. We can now talk about my favorite word: frequency. Let’s start with the red line. Focus on the blue dots at the trough or lowest point of the wave. Every time the wave returns to that trough, it goes through one cycle. If we count those troughs we can see that it goes through its oscillation 4 times. That is 4 cycles per our defined time scale and since our time scale is one second that is 4 cycles per second. So the red line is 4Hz. The orange, green, blue, and purple have more cycles in our defined time scale and therefore they have a higher frequency. Let’s skip down to the purple line and look at the frequency in Hz again. Let’s look at the blue dots in the troughs again. There are 15 troughs in this wave, plus about half a cycle left over, so 15.5Hz.  

Now just for fun imagine if our time scale was 2 seconds instead of 1, then the red line would be 2Hz and the purple line would be 7.75Hz.

Hopefully that made some semblance of sense, because now we are going to use that to explore sound and infrasound. Frequency and amplitude are two of the main variables that we use to describe a signal. We are again going to start with the audible range.

The human ear can, in general, hear from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. Above 20,000Hz is ultrasound (bats use it and dogs can hear it). Below 20Hz is infrasound (whales, giraffes, and elephants use it to communicate).  

Now, to put some of these numbers in context, let’s move to the piano. In the middle of the keyboard is the “middle C”, which is blue in the above figure. This musical note has a frequency of 261.626 Hz. In that range is also the “A” (in yellow), that you always hear when an orchestra tunes before a concert. This note is at 440Hz.  The lowest note on the piano is 27.5 Hz and the highest is 4186.01 Hz. Now for some fun, here are some links so you can hear the different pitches.

First is concert A (440Hz)
In the Baroque period an A was 415 Hz
If we jump down an octave (440/2 = 220) this is what it sounds like 
… and if we go down another octave (110 Hz) this is what it sounds like 

In the sound range, we perceive amplitude as “loudness.” In Infrasound we use Pascals (Pa) or a measure of pressure to quantify amplitude of a signal.

Ok, enough of audible sound. That is not what this blog is about, it is about INFRASOUND!

Infrasound, like I said, is anything below 20Hz (the value for the base of human hearing). There are a few more variables I would like to define before we go any farther. The speed of sound in air is one of them. In general the work in this blog is done on signals that travel through the atmosphere. Because the temperature and density of the atmosphere affect the speed of sound, we are going to just use the speed of sound at sea level throughout this blog. That value is ~340 m/sec or ~1116 ft/sec. You will generally see us using the metric units.

Now that we have the speed and frequency of a wave, we can talk about how long it takes to pass a single point, and how long the wavelength is. Let’s go back to our sine wave shall we?

The wavelength is a measure of length. In order to calculate the wavelength for a wave you need the velocity, the frequency, and this equation:   where  is velocity, is wavelength, and  is frequency. 

Let’s plug in some numbers! Let’s take our 4Hz signal from before and 340 (m/s). If we rearrange the above equation to velocity/frequency = wavelength we get 340(m/s) /4 (/sec) =  85 meters.  The length of a sound wave that is 4Hz is 85 m. We have the velocity so we know that each second 4 waves can pass by a single point.

Alright, now that we have all of that out of the way….

Infrasound is any sound below 20Hz. That makes more sense now right? Good.

Now let’s go hunt some signals! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012



I have a quick question. This blog is meant to share results from chasing down different infrasound signals. I am currently almost done with a post on the landslide in Alaska, and came up against a very serious question. Who will be reading this? What level should I write for? What level do you want? So audience... please tell me what you would like to see!

Thank you!

Infrasound huntress

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting out of the lab!

Have you heard about the HVO open house!?

Well, we have! Several of the iSoundHunter team are headed to Volcano this weekend for the open house, and some hiking. Let us know if you are going to be there as well!