In East Wallingford, we are (mostly) accustomed to hearing a lot of typically urban sounds: the ever-present roar of the Ship Canal Bridge; the booming clanks of garbage, recycling, and yard waste pickup; the metallic buzz of sawzall tools as thieves steal your catalytic converter. But this morning, I heard some unfamiliar sounds. It was hammering, and what sounded like the “plink” of aluminum baseball bats at a high school game. I live across the street from the John Stanford International School (JSIS), and there were two men installing equipment with a lot of wires and other gear. Mostly, I was intrigued by the orange work vests they were wearing. They read “DNR Geology”.
Geology? In Wallingford? As I was leaving to run errands, I walked over to the two-man crew and asked just that: “There’s geology in Wallingford?” And they replied as one might expect a missionary would, to an unwashed heathen: “There is geology everywhere”. Amen, brothers.
With that, I introduced myself, and my new geologist friends Alex Kover and David Guarente of the Washington Geological Survey (part of the state Department of Natural Resources) did the same. They had installed an array of seismic sensors along 4th Avenue NE, next to JSIS. The “plinks” and other thuds I heard were the artificial shock waves they were creating to help them profile the geology underlying the school, as part of a program to assess the seismic safety of schools in the state. They process and publish the results online to provide a comparative assessment of seismic vulnerability for our schools. As I understood it, this is part of a program that was created by the Washington Legislature. As a retired scientist, I processed all of this information into my own conclusion: “That’s kinda neat.”
Alex provided me the business card of his boss, who leads the School Seismic Safety Program for the Washington Geological Survey. If you are interested in learning more about the program and seeing the results, you can check out the site link or contact [email protected]