Southern California Seismic Network

Rocket Launches

The SCSN occasionally detects the ground motion that is most likely the energy translated to the ground by the thrusters of rocket launches during take-off. This SpaceX Falcon 9 launch was executed from Vandenburg Air Force Base near Santa Maria, California, at 8:56 pm local time on Monday September 13th, with the mission of sending 51 Starlink satellites into orbit.

The energy from this rocket launch is unmistakably different from an earthquake signal with a local origin: it lacks distinct seismic phases, and differs in both the duration of the energy signal and the speed at which it reaches different sensors in our network.

In addition to our own seismic installations in the local area, a number of our partner seismic networks have equipment at the base itself, all of which contributed to the detection of the launch. The seismograms and map below show an image of the waveforms detected by these installations as well as the seismometer locations with respect to the launch site.

Along with the static seismometer images, our Live Seismograms Feed detected the launch, which is visible on the channel CI.LCP near Santa Maria. Again, notice the difference between a local earthquake and the long duration shaking represented in CI.LCP channel with no distinct p/s-waves.

For more info about this launch and future rocket launches from SpaceX at this launch site visit their website at and view their social media posts below.