Earthquake sound perception

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Abstract

[1] Sound is an effect produced by almost all earthquakes. Using a web-based questionnaire on earthquake effects that included questions relating to seismic sound, we collected 77,000 responses for recent shallow Italian earthquakes. An analysis of audibility attenuation indicated that the decrease of the percentage of respondents hearing the sound was proportional to the logarithm of the epicentral distance and linearly dependent on earthquake magnitude, in accordance with the behavior of ground displacement. Even if this result was based on Italian data, qualitative agreement with the results of theoretical displacement, and of a similar study based on French seismicity suggests wider validity. We also found that, given earthquake magnitude, audibility increased together with the observed macroseismic intensity, leading to the possibility of accounting for sound audibility in intensity assessment. Magnitude influenced this behavior, making small events easier to recognize, as suggested by their frequency content.

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