Producer Ike Sriskandarajah asked if there was any way we could illustrate the craziness of the changes in Oklahoma’s rate of earthquakes in the past 10 years.

So I ran earthquake catalog data that I downloaded from the Northern California Earthquake Data Center through some code I wrote to translate the time and magnitude of each quake into MIDI notes. Each “plink” you hear in the recording is a single earthquake in Oklahoma. The lower the pitch and the louder the note, the bigger the earthquake.

Then our sound engineer Jim Briggs, who is a for-real composer, ran those notes through a synthesizer to add more musicality. Take a listen:

You can hear me and host Al Letson talk more about the data behind our “Oklahoma’s man-made earthquakes” story on the June episode of Reveal.


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Michael Corey is Reveal's senior data editor. He leads a team of data journalists who seek to distill large datasets into compelling and easily understandable stories using the tools of journalism, statistics and programming. His specialties include mapping, the U.S.-Mexico border, scientific data and working with remote sensing. Corey's work has been honored with an Online Journalism Award, an Emmy Award, a Polk Award, an IRE Medal and other national awards. He previously worked for the Des Moines Register and graduated from Drake University. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.