SCIENCE AND GE­OG­RA­PHY STU­DENTS at Scoil Chonglais in Balt­in­glass recorded two earth­quakes on the school's seis­mo­graph which ended up caus­ing such dev­as­ta­tion in Ja­pan re­sult­ing in the loss of tens of thou­sands of peo­ple.

The first record­ing was made dur­ing the early hours of Wed­nes­day morn­ing and mea­sured 7.4 on the Richter Scale. The sec­ond was recorded on Fri­day morn­ing and mea­sured 8.9 on the Richer Scale. Seis­mol­o­gists have since up­graded the size of the sec­ond ‘Su­per quake' to 9.0, mak­ing it twice as pow­er­ful as first thought. Science Teacher, Stephen Gam­mell, said the stu­dents ini­tial in­ter­est in the record­ings were soon over­come by gen­uine concern as im­ages of the may­hem caused by the tsunami reached Ir­ish TV screens.

‘ The level of cu­rios­ity among the stu­dents was huge. They were amazed they could mea­sure vi­bra­tions tak­ing place off the coast of Ja­pan from a school in west Wick­low.

‘ There were lots of ques­tions over why this hap­pened and what caused the tsunami. Then the dev­as­ta­tion caused re­ally im­pacted on them. They were hor­ri­fied, say­ing imag­ine how

ter­ri­ble it would be to get caught up in some­thing so de­struc­tive.'

The sec­ond earth­quake orig­i­nated un­der the Pa­cific Ocean and was more than 30 times stronger. It's one of the largest earth­quakes on record and trig­gered the tsunami which struck the coast of Ja­pan as well as In­done­sia, New Zealand and other Pa­cific-Basin coun­tries.

Mr. Gam­mell adds that the stu­dents were ex­tremely touched by some of the scenes of the af­ter­math of the huge tsunami, es­pe­cially hav­ing watched the nat­u­ral disas­ter es­ca­late from so a-far.

‘ It was some­what of a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence for them. They now have a link with it and spent a great deal of their week­end watch­ing news cov­er­age of the disas­ter.

‘ I'm sure you will see stu­dents start to or­gan­ise a num­ber of fundrais­ers now for re­lief ef­forts.'

Scoil Chonglais is one of 50 or so schools na­tion­wide in­volved in the Seis­mol­ogy in Schools Pro­gramme, an ini­tia­tive aimed at pro­mot­ing phys­i­cal sci­ences among stu­dents.

‘ The Balt­in­glass school was ac­tu­ally the first in the coun­try to pos­sess a seis­mome­ter and stu­dents have now de­tected 30 earth­quakes since 2008.

Scoil Chonglais stu­dents Emilie Flan­ni­gan, Kelsey Kirby and Roberto Al­le­grini mon­i­tor the Ja­panese earth­quake on the schools seis­mo­graph in Balt­in­glass, Co Wick­low.

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