The PBS Newshour article Scientists discover big storms can create ‘stormquakes’ says:

A stormquake is more an oddity than something that can hurt you, because no one is standing on the sea floor during a hurricane, said Wenyuan Fan, a Florida State University seismologist who was the study’s lead author.

The combination of two frightening natural phenomena might bring to mind “Sharknado ,” but stormquakes are real and not dangerous.

“This is the last thing you need to worry about,” Fan told The Associated Press.

Storms trigger giant waves in the sea, which cause another type of wave. These secondary waves then interact with the seafloor — but only in certain places — and that causes the shaking, Fan said. It only happens in places where there’s a large continental shelf and shallow flat land.

Unfortunately the article does not link to or identify the published study.

Question: Are there more technical terms or clarifications for the following items?

  1. stormquake
  2. storm-triggered giant waves
  3. another type of wave (secondary waves)
  4. "certain places"

1 Answer 1


The article can be found here in Geophysical Research Letters:

Fan, W., McGuire, J. J., Groot‐Hedlin, C. D., Hedlin, M. A. H., Coats, S., & Fiedler, J. W. ( 2019). Stormquakes Geophysical Research Letters, 46. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL084217


Seismic signals from ocean‐solid Earth interactions are ubiquitously recorded on our planet. However, these wavefields are typically incoherent in the time domain limiting their utilization for understanding ocean dynamics or solid Earth properties. In contrast, we find that during large storms such as hurricanes and Nor'easters the interaction of long‐period ocean waves with shallow seafloor features located near the edge of continental shelves, known as ocean banks, excites coherent transcontinental Rayleigh wave packets in the 20 to 50 s period band. These “stormquakes” migrate coincident with the storms, but are effectively spatiotemporally focused seismic point sources with equivalent earthquake magnitudes that can be greater than 3.5. Stormquakes thus provide new coherent sources to investigate Earth structure in locations that typically lack both seismic instrumentation and earthquakes. Moreover, they provide a new geophysical observable with high spatial and temporal resolution with which to investigate ocean wave dynamics during large storms.

Plain Language Summary

Large storms such as hurricanes and Nor’easters generate strong long‐period ocean waves, which can interact with shallow seafloor features located near the edge of continental shelves known as ocean banks. Such interactions produce seismic sources with equivalent earthquake magnitudes that can be greater than 3.5. These seismic sources are termed “stormquakes”, and they can excite coherent seismic wave fields that are well recorded across the North American continent. Stormquake is a newly identified geophysical phenomenon, which involves interactions of atmosphere, ocean, and the solid Earth. Therefore, stormquakes can provide useful information to investigate the Earth structure and ocean wave dynamics.

At the moment the link there to the PDF works and is not paywalled.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi @uhoh thanks, I just wanted to post a comment, but as you already mentioned, I haven't got the necessary reputation for it yet. $\endgroup$
    – Exi
    Oct 17, 2019 at 8:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ okay so two more up votes and you'll be there! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 17, 2019 at 8:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ...and you're there! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 17, 2019 at 12:31

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