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Forensic investigation of a probable meteor sighting using USArray acoustic data

TitleForensic investigation of a probable meteor sighting using USArray acoustic data
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsEdwards W.N, de Groot-Hedlin C.D, Hedlin MAH
JournalSeismological Research Letters
Date Published2014/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0895-0695
Accession NumberWOS:000341274200008
Keywordsarray; bolides; hazard; infrasound; records; seismic network; shock-wave

The addition of atmospheric acoustic sensors as part of the transportable stations of USArray has allowed a detailed explanation to be provided to the public and media regarding a significant meteor event observed over the region of Montreal, Canada. The meteor, obscured by cloudy conditions, was perceived by residents only as a bright blue flash followed subsequently by loud thunderous sounds and rumbling. The event quickly became a source of great public interest and inquiry. This primarily acoustic event went nearly unobserved by all regional seismic instruments, but was a significant source of infrasonic sound readily recorded by barometric and microbarometric sensors currently in the region. Infrasonic detections of ballistic shockwaves and the meteoroid¿s subsequent break-up were observed over hundreds of kilometers and constrain the object to a generally north-south trajectory. Size estimates for the object, based on signal characteristics, range between 0.2 ¿ 0.6 m in diameter for a spherical body, depending upon its velocity. Due to the USArray acoustic capabilities a detailed explanation to this highly unusual event was able to be provided to media for public consumption from trusted sources, where speculation and conjecture may have otherwise run rampant.


"This event demonstrates the utility of the instrumental data openly available to public, private, and academic institutions on USArray TA stations and its capabilities to assist in informing the general public regarding events unrelated to the stations’ primarily seismological focus. The presence of the TA stations in the region allowed a relatively detailed explanation of an event of great public interest to be provided from authoritative sources, in which speculation and conjecture may otherwise be rampant."

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