Smartphones and other personal electronic devices could, in regions where they are in widespread use, function as early warning systems for large earthquakes according to newly reported research. This technology could serve regions of the world that cannot afford higher quality, but more expensive, conventional earthquake early warning systems, or could contribute to those systems.
The study, led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and published April 10 in the inaugural volume of the new AAAS journal Science Advances, found that the sensors in smartphones and similar devices could be used to build earthquake warning systems. Despite being less accurate than scientific-grade equipment, the GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers in a smartphone can detect the permanent ground movement (displacement) caused by fault motion in a large earthquake.
Using crowdsourced observations from participating users’ smartphones, earthquakes could be detected and analyzed, and customized earthquake warnings could be transmitted back to users. “Crowdsourced alerting means that the community will benefit by data generated from the community,” said Sarah Minson, USGS geophysicist and lead author of the study. Minson was a post-doctoral researcher at Caltech while working on this study.
Earthquake early warning systems detect the start of an earthquake and rapidly transmit warnings to people and automated systems before they experience shaking at their location. While much of the world’s population is susceptible to damaging earthquakes, EEW systems are currently operating in only a few regions around the globe, including Japan and Mexico. “Most of the world does not receive earthquake warnings mainly due to the cost of building the necessary scientific monitoring networks,” said USGS geophysicist and project lead Benjamin Brooks.
Researchers tested the feasibility of crowdsourced EEW with a simulation of a hypothetical magnitude 7 earthquake, and with real data from the 2011 magnitude 9 Tohoku-oki, Japan earthquake. The results show that crowdsourced EEW could be achieved with only a tiny percentage of people in a given area contributing information from their smartphones. For example, if phones from fewer than 5000 people in a large metropolitan area responded, the earthquake could be detected and analyzed fast enough to issue a warning to areas farther away before the onset of strong shaking. “The speed of an electronic warning travels faster than the earthquake shaking does,” explained Craig Glennie, a report author and professor at the University of Houston.
The authors found that the sensors in smartphones and similar devices could be used to issue earthquake warnings for earthquakes of approximately magnitude 7 or larger, but not for smaller, yet potentially damaging earthquakes. Comprehensive EEW requires a dense network of scientific instruments. Scientific-grade EEW, such as the U.S. Geological Survey’s ShakeAlert system that is currently being implemented on the west coast of the United States, will be able to help minimize the impact of earthquakes over a wide range of magnitudes. However, in many parts of the world where there are insufficient resources to build and maintain scientific networks, but consumer electronics are increasingly common, crowdsourced EEW has significant potential.
“The U.S. earthquake early warning system is being built on our high-quality scientific earthquake networks, but crowdsourced approaches can augment our system and have real potential to make warnings possible in places that don’t have high-quality networks,” said Douglas Given, USGS coordinator of the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System. The U.S. Agency for International Development has already agreed to fund a pilot project, in collaboration with the Chilean Centro Sismológico Nacional, to test a pilot hybrid earthquake warning system comprising stand-alone smartphone sensors and scientific-grade sensors along the Chilean coast.
“The use of mobile phone fleets as a distributed sensor network — and the statistical insight that many imprecise instruments can contribute to the creation of more precise measurements — has broad applicability including great potential to benefit communities where there isn’t an existing network of scientific instruments,” said Bob Iannucci of Carnegie Mellon University, Silicon Valley.
“Thirty years ago it took months to assemble a crude picture of the deformations from an earthquake. This new technology promises to provide a near-instantaneous picture with much greater resolution,” said Thomas Heaton, a coauthor of the study and professor of Engineering Seismology at Caltech.
The Latest on: Earthquake Warning System
via Google News
The Latest on: Earthquake Warning System
- Magnitude 4.2 earthquake shakes Los Angeles, but no damageon July 31, 2020 at 3:40 am
A magnitude 4.2 earthquake gave the Los Angeles region an early morning wake-up call but no significant damage has been reported ...
- Magnitude 4.2 earthquake shakes Southern Californiaon July 30, 2020 at 6:48 pm
The quake was mostly felt in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, according to the USGS citizen reporting system, but a few reports came from more distant locations. The northern San Fernando Valley is ...
- Magnitude 4.2 Earthquake Shakes Los Angeleson July 30, 2020 at 2:17 pm
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A magnitude 4.2 earthquake gave the Los Angeles region a predawn wake-up call Thursday, triggering local alerts from the state’s new quake warning system but resulting in no reports ...
- 4.2 magnitude earthquake strikes the San Fernando Valleyon July 30, 2020 at 4:44 am
A 4.2 magnitude earthquake struck the San Fernando Valley early Thursday morning, jolting some residents awake in the pre-dawn darkness and rattling nerves across the region. The temblor hit at ...
- A revolutionary new early warning system for earthquakeson July 29, 2020 at 10:48 pm
An Israeli startup is aiming to transform earthquake early warning, with a new seismic algorithm and sensor network that can be put in place cheaply, anywhere in the world.
- Two earthquakes off the West Coast in 6 hours. When will B.C. get an early warning system?on July 22, 2020 at 6:23 pm
But he stressed that even with an early warning system, there’s not much time, so people need to be prepared. "Think about what you can do before the earthquake, even today, to make your house a ...
- Alaska earthquake: Tsunami warning in US after enormous 7.8 magnitude tremor strikes off coaston July 22, 2020 at 2:03 am
A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck the Alaska Peninsula, prompting the authorities to issue a tsunami warning.According to the US Geological Survey, the 7.8 magnitude quake struck Tuesday ...
- Tsunami warning issued as magnitude 7.8 earthquake hits off shore of Alaskaon July 22, 2020 at 1:40 am
The USGS has issued a preliminary report of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake at a depth of 10km striking 100km offshore of Alaska. The quake struck at approximately 06:12:42 (UTC). The U.S. Tsunami Warning ...
- Tsunami warning issued after powerful earthquake strikes Alaskaon July 22, 2020 at 1:07 am
A powerful 7.8 earthquake has struck the Alaska Peninsula and a tsunami warning has been issued. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 7.8 magnitude quake ...
- Tsunami warning in effect for Homer following earthquakeon July 22, 2020 at 12:51 am
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management has clarified that the tsunami warning is in effect for the coastal areas of Kachemak Bay. This includes the communities of Nanwalek, Port ...
via Bing News