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Las Vegas Natural History Museum hunting for unknown fault lines in area

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jul 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-09 01:54:13-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Whenever the earth shatters along fault lines spreading waves of energy miles in every direction, scientists have sat at posts recording the motion on seismographs that most people are able to recognize.

Many, however, may not have seen the new technology used to record the movement called geophones.

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Joshua Bonde, Curator of the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, has been using a geophone to track the constant grumbling of earth crust movement in real time since early June, but didn't plan to catch the recent 7.1 and 6.4 magnitude earthquakes from California as they passed through the museum.

Bonde said that's not why they bought the geophone.

"There's always that possibility that there are faults we just don't recognize yet," Bonde said.

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He said geologists have identified seven to nine active faults in the area, but more could be hidden buried deep enough under the earth that they don't have a characteristic surface identifier like a mountain top or hump in the earth.

"Often times there are big dramatic expressions of the fault," Bonde said, "but not every fault does that."

Bonde said a grid of active geophones can sense mini-shocks in the earth created by a fault rubbing together, and then geophysicists can triangulate their source and map hidden fault lines.

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There are only a few active geophones in Southern Nevada including two in Pahrump, one at the Nevada State College, one in Boulder City, and one at the Natural History Museum.

Bonde said that, in the new high-tech era, anyone can help create a new data point for geophysicists.

"You can be a citizen scientist because technology has come along so far," Bonde said.

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Bonde uses a geophone network called Raspberry Shake to report his data.

The company sells geophones for personal use, starting at $374.99, that can be registered with the worldwide network at RaspberryShake.org.

Bonde said they should be placed on the ground at the home's lowest level so the earth's waves transfer directly into the geophone.