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Rū seismometers

In multiple places on our website, we've talked a little about seismometers and how important to our work having places to site seismometers is. We aren't the only ones who can have seismometers that collect data for us though!

R-CET scientist Kasper van Wijk is part of the team behind the Rū seismometers. Rū seismometers are TC-1 seismometers built for schools and museums across New Zealand. They are vertical tubes with magnets hanging from a slinky that is connected to the top of the tube. They look like this:

As you can see, the slinky hangs from the top of the tube and has something hanging off the bottom. The magnet hanging off the bottom of the slinky sits inside of the smaller tube with the wire wrapped around it*. When the tube is shaken by an earthquake (or close by cell phone, vacuum cleaner, jumping students... you get the idea), then the magnet moves in and outside of the small tube wrapped in wire. The movement of the magnet in and out of the wire-wrapped tube causes a small electric current that can be detected by the electronic unit at the bottom of the tube. The bottom unit can be connected to a computer which allows the shaking to be displayed on a computer.

The Rū seismometers (named after Rūaumoko) can then upload their data to a central website where anyone can access the data. This allows for other people to learn about the data you collect too. You can view data from specific seismometers here:

Rū's are really neat because you can see what research grade seismometers are doing under the ground and other school seismometers are doing in their little casings. While the data collected by a Rū is not as high quality as the data collected by GeoNet, we have still detected earthquakes from around the world on Rū's across Aotearoa!

As part of the R-CET outreach programme, we can build Rū's for schools that we have an ongoing outreach relationship with! Have you been looking for ways to incorporate more earth science or physics into your classroom? This could be the way. We are also happy to help you design lessons and investigations around your new Rū. Rū's can also support maths and technology lessons.

To find out more about the Rū programme, check out their website: We'd also love to hear you if you'd like to be one of our key partner schools!

*You may have noticed there are actually two tubes suspended inside the clear tube. The upper tube is white plastic with wire wrapped around it. The lower tube is a metallic tube. The bottom tube is referred to as a dampener. The dampener tube helps slow the movement of the magnet after it is initially shaken.

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