Earthquake-Detection App Recorded Nearly 400 Temblors Worldwide Using Crowdsourced Data


Thanks to MyShake – an earthquake detection app released in February – almost 400 earthquakes in the past 10 months have been recorded.

According to UC Berkeley officials, they recorded surprisingly higher seismic activities in the fracking fields of Oklahoma. In fact, in 2015, Oklahoma residents experienced tremors 907 times.

Since 2008, the region's earthquake activity increased by a factor of 43, which in percentage terms comes to 4,000 percent.

According to earthquake researcher and Ph.D. student Pengyun Wang, wastewater fluid injection technologies from fracking fields are contributing to it.

With users' data, the MyShake app helped in tracking 395 earthquakes of varying magnitudes and the developers are citing it as the proof of its super efficacy.

Popular Android App

The Android app was downloaded by 220,000 people. Going by its success, there is a perception that seismic sensitivity of the smartphone accelerometers along with phone density can help in early warning.

In terms of operation, the app uses motion detectors in smartphones to measure ground motion with data being sent to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory for a detailed analysis.

A new version was released on Dec.14 and is available at the Google Play Store with options for notifications of recent quakes.

"The notifications will not be fast initially – not fast enough for early warning – but it puts into place the technology to deliver the alerts and we can then work toward making them faster and faster as we improve our real-time detection system within MyShake," said project leader Richard Allen, a UC Berkeley professor and the seismology lab's director.

The app was also discussed in a paper by Louis Schreier, who co-wrote a paper that was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Now the researchers are readying a presentation at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Qingkai Kong, the UC Berkeley developer and a graduate student, will present a brief on the app's performance.

Allen and Kong, along with colleagues at Deutsche Telekom's Silicon Valley Innovation Center, believe that the app's performance will complement other official networks and can reduce damage and deaths from earthquakes.

Wider Quake Detection

The app can detect quakes as small as magnitude 2.5 in Richter scale. It differs from other earthquake apps like Quakes, QuakeFeed and Earthquake as they show earthquakes of the past with data taken from the U.S. Geological Survey.

In MyShake, when the app developers receive too many notifications from one area, they recognize an earthquake is due and start sending the alerts.

One main merit is the app uses very little power and as soon as the seismic activity is sensed, it becomes active and works best when the phone is put on a flat surface like a table.

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