In 2013, a mutual friend brought Kat Vollinger and Nathan Richman together as rock climbing partners. Within a few years, they were married, and their shared love of climbing led them on adventures around the world. That’s how, in March 2018, they found themselves scaling Castleton Tower, a nearly 400-foot sandstone spire near Moab, Utah, with a seismometer in tow.
They helped scientists measure, for the first time, how Castleton Tower taps into the earth’s natural vibrations, finding that it pulsates at about the rate of a human heartbeat.
Castleton Tower is one of many culturally significant desert rock formations that Jeff Moore, a geologist, and his team at the Geohazards research group at the University of Utah have been monitoring with audio recordings. Like a doctor listening to the beating of a human heart, they hope to learn about the structural health of these arches, bridges and towers and how their environments affect them.