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Q & A: Seismographs

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
How does a seismograph work?
- Stephanie (age 9)
Jim Thorpe, Santa Ana, CA

Stephanie -

A seismograph is a device that detects movements in the Earth's surface, like earthquakes. The most important part of a seismograph is a pencil, loosely suspended over a roll of paper. If the ground starts shaking, the pencil will shake too. Since the pencil is being held over paper, it will make a line as it moves. So the more of a line you get, the more the pencil is moving, and the more the ground is shaking.

Another important thing in a good seismograph is its use of electronics. By using the right sort of construction, a seismograph can be built that will be very sensitive to the shaking of the ground, so that even a small shake can create a large line on the paper. You can read more about seismographs at


(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: Building a Seismograph

How do you build a seismograph at home?
- Gregory Caldwell (age 11)
Founders Memorial School, Essex, Vermont, USA
Gregory -

Here’s a simple diagram that I found on the net of a build-it-yourself seismograph:

Build Your Own Seismograph


You can also try looking at this link... they have some really good explanations, instructions, pictures, etc.


(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.