An earthquake detecting mobile application released by the University of California at Berkeley earlier this year has so far captured 400 temblors worldwide, researchers said.
The Android app, named MyShake, harnesses a smartphone’s motion detectors to measure earthquake ground motion, then sends that data back to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory for analysis.
The eventual goal is to send early-warning alerts to users a bit farther from Ground Zero, giving them seconds to a minute of warning that the ground will start shaking — enough time to take cover or switch off equipment that might be damaged in a quake.
Ten months of operation clearly show that the sensitivity of the smartphone accelerometers and the density of phones in many places are sufficient to provide data quickly enough for early warning.
The phones readily detect the first seismic waves to arrive — the less destructive P waves — and send the information to Berkeley in time to issue an alert that the stronger S wave will soon arrive.