AMESBURY — Amesbury High School is about to become the first of its kind in the nation to make use of a next generation seismic station.

Mark Casto, a geology and earth science teacher, was able to record a magnitude-3.6 earthquake off the coast of New Bedford in November. 

The earthquake was the first Casto ever recorded on a research-quality, PEPP-V seismometer that he set up at the high school thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Toshiba America Foundation in 2007.

Excited by his success, the science teacher applied for another Toshiba America Foundation grant late last year and was awarded $10,000 to upgrade his seismometer.

Casto said he will use a large portion of the grant to buy a Certimus next generation seismic station that allows for information to be shared via Wi-Fi, ethernet and Bluetooth connections.

"This is a real cool science toy. That is what motivates me," Casto said. "This will actually be the first unit to be used at a high school in the United States."

Casto said the equipment is now being manufactured and should be in Amesbury by spring.

"This is a highly technical piece of equipment," Casto said. "The company is very excited to see it being put to use in a high school. We are really kind of piloting the unit for them."

Casto said he hopes to install the new equipment in the school's outdoor courtyard.

"It will be a nice addition to what we already have," Casto said. "It will be solar powered so, if there is an electrical interruption, we won't have to worry about the unit."

Amesbury High School acting Principal Danielle Ricci said she is very proud to have Casto on staff.

"He has been awarded multiple grants now through Toshiba," Ricci said, allowing the school to expand its senior Capstone Project by having students conduct "live-action research."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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