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Geologist and artist record natural ‘hum’ of red rock arches

Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-18 18:01:55-05

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, UTAH – The sound is inaudible to the human ear, but it is there. It is a rumble that rises and falls, builds and descends.   

The red rock arches of the Colorado Plateau appear to the naked eye as stationary, lifeless objects. However, Geologist Jeff Moore of the University of Utah, along with sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard, have been recording the rocks, and putting them to different uses.

Moore uses the recordings to study the stability of the arches over time. Kirkegaard layers recordings with other environmental sounds, to create artistic pieces, that highlight that the archers are in fact alive.

The recordings that Moore and Kirkegaard collected are the sounds of seismic waves, that pass through the arches, and are sped up to levels where humans can hear them.  These seismic waves can be caused by wind, and far away earthquakes.

Moore had learned of Kirkegaard’s work, and contacted him to see if he would be interested in using the seismic recordings in a piece. Kirkegaard stated it had been a dream of his to use such recordings, and jumped at an opportunity to work with them.

Hearing and experiencing the landscape through an artist’s eyes was a treat for Moore, inspiring him to further research and showcase the “voice” of the arches.

Kirkegaard’s piece is entitled Transmission, and can be found on his website here.

More information on the project can be found on the University of Utah’s website here.