Exclusive Seismoacoustic Detection and Characterization of an Unseen and Unheard Fireball Over the North Atlantic

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1029/2023GL105773. This is version 3 of this Preprint.

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Stephen Paul Hicks , Sandro B Matos, Adriano Pimentel, Giacomo Belli, Duccio Gheri, Maria Tsekhmistrenko, Kasra Hosseini, Wolfram H Geissler, Rita Silva, Nicolau Wallenstein, Ana Ferreira


Small meteoroids that enter Earth's atmosphere often go unnoticed because their detection and characterization rely on human observations, introducing observational biases in space and time. Acoustic shockwaves from meteoroid ablation convert to infrasound and seismic energy, enabling fireball detection using seismoacoustic methods. We analyzed an unreported fireball in 2022 near the Azores, recorded by 26 seismometers and two infrasound arrays. Through polarization analyses, array methods, and 3-D ray-tracing, we determined that the terminal blast occurred at 40 km altitude, ∼60 km NE of São Miguel Island. This location matches an unidentified flash captured by a lightning detector aboard the GOES-16 satellite. The estimated kinetic energy is ∼10−3 kT TNT equivalent, suggesting a 10−1 m object diameter, thousands of which enter the atmosphere annually. Our results demonstrate how geophysical methods, in tandem with satellite data, can significantly improve the observational completeness of meteoroids, advancing our understanding of their sources and entry processes.




Astrophysics and Astronomy, Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Meteoroid, Fireball, infrasound, seismoacoustic, Geostationary Lightning Mapper, Near-Earth object


Published: 2023-08-08 09:15

Last Updated: 2023-11-15 14:29

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