Written by Morgan Kelly
A seismic station installed this year at the University’s Allegheny Observatory has revived Pitt’s work in seismology and—as the region’s only seismic station—united Western Pennsylvania with a global network of scientists aiming to better understand the Earth’s structure. The Cathedral of Learning originally housed an earth-floor “seismic vault” equipped with a seismograph, but the antiquated apparatus was dismantled several decades ago. The new station boasts a highly sensitive seismograph—a heavy steel canister that must be perfectly level—that can detect as little as a half-nanometer-per-second displacement of the Earth’s crust caused by earthquakes anywhere in the world. Its readings are fed into the public database of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, a consortium of universities pooling and analyzing seismic data.