Matterhorn swings back and forth – science

Research

It is a well-known scientific phenomenon that skyscrapers and bridges move in a minimalistic way. The researchers have now been able to relate this to a larger object.

Snow falls on the Matterhorn. (Image archive).
Photo: Dominic Steinmann/KEYSTONE/dpa

Zermatt (DPA). The Matterhorn appears solid and immobile in the Swiss landscape. Actually vibrate. This is what the researchers describe now in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

However, within a good two seconds, the top moves only a few nanometers to a micrometer, which is not visible with the naked eye. A nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter, and a micrometer is one thousandth of a millimeter.

Earth’s seismic waves

The reason is the Earth’s seismic waves, which are generated for example by tides, ocean surf, winds, earthquakes or by human activities. This phenomenon is already known from tall buildings and bridges. The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) quotes colleague Samuel Weber: “We wanted to see if such vibrations could also be detected on a mountain as large as the Matterhorn.” For measurement, seismographs were installed, among other things, directly on the top of the Matterhorn, at an altitude of 4,470 meters above sea level.

The institute announced that “measurements show that the Matterhorn vibrates at a frequency of approximately 0.42 Hz in the north-south direction and with a similar second frequency in the east-west direction.”

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211228-99-520148 / 2

Matterhorn vibration study

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