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A DAY OF TERROR: THE MEASUREMENT; Columbia's Seismographs Log Quake-Level Impacts
(NYT) 276 words
The crash of two planes into the World Trade Center and the collapses of the towers created shock waves that registered on sensitive instruments meant to monitor earthquakes.
In destructive energy, the building collapses were slightly larger than the small earthquake that shook the East Side of Manhattan on Jan. 17, scientists said yesterday.
''It was pretty good sized,'' said Lynn R. Sykes, a seismologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, which tracks global earthquakes from its base 10 miles north of Manhattan.
Scientists at Lamont were watching news of the crashes on television when their seismographs began to jump.
''I just cried,'' said Won-Young Kim, the scientist in charge of monitoring quakes in the Northeast, knowing that the sensors were registering more than just the force of falling concrete.
The seismographs also recorded the impacts of the airplanes, the first at 8:46 a.m. and the second at 9:03 a.m., Dr. Sykes said. The tower collapses, he added, came at 9:59 and 10:28 a.m.
The destructive energy of the January earthquake was magnitude 2.4, a minor earthquake. It was felt in Manhattan and Queens. Dr. Sykes said the twin tower collapses were slightly larger in destructive energy.
(The collapse hours later of a much shorter building, 7 World Trade Center, did not register in initial seismograph readings, scientists said.)
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