Cool technology for earthquake detection and measurement

| No Comments
Instead of having a few seismometers scattered around, what if there were thousands. From Popular Mechanics:
Earthquake Prediction? There's an App for That
As part of their battle to understand and protect against the destructive force of earthquakes, seismologists have gone to extraordinary lengths. They have bored holes deep into the earth's crust, laid out arrays of sensors hundreds of miles across, and built supercomputers capable of running simulations at teraflop speeds. But the most exciting new effort in cutting-edge seismology involves a piece of instrumentation that's a good deal less exotic. It's called an iPhone.

"Each smartphone has an accelerometer built into it," says Robert W. Clayton, a professor of geology at Caltech. "It's primary function is to determine the orientation of the phone and to allow gaming. But it can also be used to detect seismic activity." What's more, the phone's internet connection allows it instant access to remote servers. In essence, though consumers think of them that way, iPhones have the capability to serve as nodes in a distributed seismic sensor network. All they need is someone to organize that network. Clayton is part of a team aiming to do just that. Called Community Seismic Network, the project will debut this summer with a tight cluster of sensors in the Pasadena area.

Volunteers are being issued inexpensive three-axis accelerometers, each about the size of a stopwatch, that can plug into any computer's USB port. Later, the network will expand to include laptops equipped with built-in accelerometers and then to smartphones. The project is running in parallel with a Stanford-based effort called the Quake Catcher Network that is already collecting data from volunteers around the world.

When a sensor detects a vibration that could be an earthquake, it automatically sends a report over the Internet. "The goal is to pass on the key information within a second, so it beats the destruction of the earthquake," Clayton says. "We call it the Temple of Doom scenario," after the scene where Indiana Jones runs out of the imploding temple just before it collapses around him. The plan is to have 1000 to 2000 sensors in the network within a year, and eventually as many as 100,000 spread out across the greater Los Angeles area.

When completed, the network will include both stationary computers and mobile devices, providing block-by-block level of detail. Mobile devices have one huge drawback when it comes to sensing earthquakes: they're subject to all sorts of extraneous vibration and movement as their users navigate around a noisy world. The key will be to develop software that can discriminate between the kinds of signals generated by temblors from everything else. Helping the cause will be the fact that, since each iPhone is part of a much wider network, false positives will be easy to spot against an otherwise quiet background.
Very cool -- here is the website for Community Seismic Network Not much there yet -- it would be fun to have a small array up here as there is a large fault running about ten miles away and Mt. Baker is an active volcano.

Leave a comment

May 2016

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        

Environment and Climate
AccuWeather
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
Climate Audit
Climate Depot
Green Trust
ICECAP
Jennifer Marohasy
MetaEfficient
Planet Gore
Science and Public Policy Institute
Solar Cycle 24
Space Weather
Space Weather - Canada
the Air Vent
Tom Nelson
Watts Up With That?


Science and Medicine
Derek Lowe
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
Medgadget
New Scientist
Next Big Future
PhysOrg.com
Ptak Science Books
Science Blog


Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
FAIL Blog
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Neatorama
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF
TYWKIWDBI


Comics
Achewood
The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Dilbert
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
Tundra
User Friendly
Vexarr
What The Duck
Wondermark
xkcd


NO WAI! WTF?¿?¿
Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?


Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog


Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
DIYPhotography
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
PetaPixel
photo.net
Shorpy
Strobist
The Online Photographer


Blogrolling
A Western Heart
AMCGLTD.COM
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cobb
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Instapundit
iowahawk
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
Michael J. Totten
Mostly Cajun
Neanderpundit
neo-neocon
Power Line
ProfessorBainbridge.com
Questions and Observations
Rachel Lucas
Roger L. Simon
Samizdata.net
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Velociworld
Weasel Zippers
WILLisms.com
Wizbang


Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Allah
BigPictureSmallOffice
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
MegaPundit
Masamune
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Publicola
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 10, 2010 9:23 PM.

Sir Edmund Hillary's ashes was the previous entry in this blog.

The gun "debate" is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Pages

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.9