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Citizen scientists wanted to catch earthquakes

US: Southern California residents called on to install mini-sensors that record earthquake data beneficial to science, emergency response and seismic safety. This call for help comes from members of the “Quake Catcher Network,” a collaborative project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The project is conducted by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, University of Delaware and the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Current networks of seismic sensors have given scientists a picture of earthquake activity in the region, but with the potential of adding up to 1,000 additional Quake Catcher Network sensors through volunteers in Southern California-especially in key areas surrounding potentially damaging faults where seismic hazard is high -the picture will become more vivid and high-resolution.

“This project is allowing anyone with an Internet-connected computer help us explore the unexplored,” said Debi Kilb, an associate project scientist at Scripps. “These Quake Catcher Network sensors can measure strong shaking in damaging earthquakes as well as light shaking that is barely perceptible, but they are not as sensitive as the equipment in the existing network. Instead, these small sensors are designed to record only local earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 and above.”

“Data from 1,000 additional seismic stations will really help complement the current working seismic network,” said Tom Heaton, the Caltech lead scientist on a project to develop a seismic early warning system that can provide a very short-term warning of impending shaking.

The idea for the Quake Catcher Network, which is building the densest network of seismic sensors ever devoted to studying earthquakes, was conceived at Scripps Institution of Oceanography by Elizabeth Cochran and Jesse Lawrence while they were post-doctoral researchers in Scripps’ Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

Roughly 3,000 Quake Catcher sensors have been installed around the world and have recorded earthquakes ranging from a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Zealand to the 2010 8.8 earthquake off Chile that is recognized as one of the largest events in recorded history.

Source: UCSD