A school in Donegal has become a global leader in recording and measuring earthquakes, thanks to its participation in the Seismology in Schools programme run by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS).

St. Columba’s College in Stranorlar recorded its thousandth earthquake in recent weeks: an event from the Dodecanese Islands in Greece, which registered a magnitude of 5.1.   The school is one of 55 primary and secondary schools nationwide that participates in DIAS’s Seismology in Schools programme.

Commenting today (11.10.19), Tom Blake, Seismology in Schools Coordinator at DIAS, said: “DIAS established the Seismology in Schools programme in 2007.  Using a seismometer and associated software, students in participating schools are able to record and study earthquakes – often from the other side of the world – in real time.

“Since the school joined the programme in April 2010, the seismic station at St. Columba’s College has recorded and submitted more data than any other school or university involved in the global Seismology in Schools network.  This is a huge achievement, not only for the school but for ‘citizen scientists’ throughout Ireland.  This project shows just how impactful it is when you make science relevant and accessible to people’s day-to-day lives.”

Monitoring earthquakes from a school physics lab

At St. Columba’s College, the earthquake monitoring station is designated Station DL02, and the seismometer is located in the school physics lab.  The school’s participation in the Seismology in Schools programme is led by Brendan O’Donoghue, Physics Teacher  and DL02 Administrator.

Commenting on the achievements of Station DL02, Mr. O’Donoghue said: “We monitor the seismometer daily and upload the recorded earthquake data to the International Seismology in Schools website, where the information is shared with schools across Ireland, the UK and the USA.

“Over the past decade, this programme has given students at St. Columba’s a huge passion for science and seismology.  From our base in Donegal, we have detected earthquakes across the globe, North Korean nuclear tests, and quarry blasts.  It is a huge achievement for us to have now recorded our one-thousandth earthquake, and we are delighted to be leading the way globally for the Seismology in Schools network.”

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