It's a kind of storm, a phenomenon just discovered by a team of researchers led by Wenyuan Fan, a professor and seismologist at the University of Florida. The results were published Monday in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
It's not as scary as it sounds.
The fan breaks it down like this. When hurricanes (or Nor & easters, or winter storms) are in the atmosphere, they produce really large waves on the surface of the sea, which then swell and form other types of waves below – which can reach deeper into the sea bottom, The interaction between these secondary waves and the seabed produces a specific type of compressive force, which then creates a hammer-like effect on the seabed.
This hammer is what is taken from seismometers. Although previously dismissed as "seismic noise", Feng and his team have discovered that the impact is actually small earthquakes ̵
Movements are insignificant and people really can't feel them, Fan said. This is not really that important to us.
"I always like to rethink that storms happen because of storms, so when extreme storms happen, I think this is our first concern," he told CNN.
But this does not make the findings insignificant. A fan said that everything in nature is intertwined, so these storms can have effects in nature that have not yet been explored. He also said that they could have a big impact on marine activities, such as if a ship were in the water, and help scientists better understand the structure of Earth.
Storms in numbers
A fan and his team focused on the period between 2006 and 2015, finding 14,077 storms in that time period. This equates to over a thousand every year.
As for how much a hurricane or other big storm, it all depends on location, he said.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Bill generated about 300 storms in 2009 as it moved north past New Jersey.
The difference is the runway of the hurricane. When the alignment is aligned with certain areas of the seabed, storms are much more likely, even if the storm is less severe.
All this shows that seismology is not only useful for collecting earthquake records, Fan said. Records always go and take much more than just earthquakes, including things like weather, reverb and even traffic.