Crowdsourcing speeds up earthquake monitoring

April 03, 2019

Data produced by Internet users can help to speed up the detection of earthquakes. Fast and accurate information is essential in the case of earthquakes: Epicentre location, depth and magnitude are minimum requirements to reliably estimate their possibly catastrophic consequences. An international team of scientists has presented a method to combine in real time data from seismic networks with information derived from users looking for earthquake information on specific websites, the smartphone LastQuake app and via Twitter. This method significantly reduces the time needed to detect and locate those earthquakes that are felt by the public. The team reported about their results in the journal Science Advances.

Robert J. Steed, Amaya Fuenzalida and Remy Bossu of the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) in France carried out the research with colleagues from France, Hungary and Germany. The EMSC is one of the top global earthquake information centers which distributes global seismic data for free to the public via its websites (http://www.emsc-csem.org, m.emsc.eu) and its LastQuake smartphone app and Twitter. It also promotes the use of crowdsourcing to collect eyewitness reports, photos and videos following earthquakes in order to improve situational awareness. This research was done in collaboration with István Bondár (MTA CSFK), an expert in seismic location and the global earthquake monitoring service of the German Centre for Geosciences, GEOFON, which is among the fastest sources for earthquake information world-wide. GEOFON operates a network of around one hundred stations and combines this real-time data with that of other open networks to automatically analyze earthquake activity world-wide.

Usually within 3 to 8 minutes after an earthquake, a software developed at GFZ is able to compute location and magnitude of the earthquake. This information is made available online and shared immediately with partner organizations. The new method to compute location can accelerate the detection time to only 1 to 3 minutes for felt earthquakes. After feeling an earthquake, people tend to rapidly seek information from the Internet or tweet about their observations. The sudden increase in demand for earthquake information from websites like the EMSC can be detected and an approximate determination made of their geographical origin. This crowdsourcing data collected by the EMSC, in combination with seismic data provided by GFZ, accelerates the detection of felt earthquakes. The algorithm incorporates usage of the EMSC websites and the EMSC's smartphone app "LastQuake" as well as searching for the word "earthquake" in 59 different languages on Twitter.

The team used the crowdsourcing approach to analyze more than 1500 earthquakes during the years 2016 and 2017. The time required to arrive at a reliable detection could be reduced by on average more than a minute compared to the analysis of only seismic data.
-end-
Title of Study:
Robert J. Steed, Amaya Fuenzalida, Rémy Bossu, István Bondár, Andres Heinloo, Aurelien Dupont, Joachim Saul, Angelo Strollo, "Crowdsourcing triggers rapid, reliable earthquake locations" (Science Advances, April 2019, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9824)

Contact Information:
Robert Steed (English) (Data Analyst and Software Engineer at EMSC)
Tel.: +33 649847334
Email: robsteed@gmail.com, robert.steed@emsc-csem.org

Rémy Bossu (English, French language) (Secretary General of European Mediterranean Seismic Centre (EMSC))
Tel.: +33 685541809
E-Mail: bossu_remy@yahoo.fr , bossu@emsc-csem.org

Dr. Joachim Saul (German and English)
Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ)
Tel.: +49 331 288-1267
E-Mail: joachim.saul@gfz-potsdam.de

Media Inquiries:
Josef Zens
Tel.: +49 (0)331 288 1040
E-Mail: josef.zens@gfz-potsdam.de

GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

Related Earthquake Articles from Brightsurf:

Healthcare's earthquake: Lessons from COVID-19
Leaders and clinician researchers from Beth Israel Lahey Health propose using complexity science to identify strategies that healthcare organizations can use to respond better to the ongoing pandemic and to anticipate future challenges to healthcare delivery.

Earthquake lightning: Mysterious luminescence phenomena
Photoemission induced by rock fracturing can occur as a result of landslides associated with earthquakes.

How earthquake swarms arise
A new fault simulator maps out how interactions between pressure, friction and fluids rising through a fault zone can lead to slow-motion quakes and seismic swarms.

Typhoon changed earthquake patterns
Intensive erosion can temporarily change the earthquake activity (seismicity) of a region significantly.

Cause of abnormal groundwater rise after large earthquake
Abnormal rises in groundwater levels after large earthquakes has been observed all over the world, but the cause has remained unknown due to a lack of comparative data before & after earthquakes.

New clues to deep earthquake mystery
A new understanding of our planet's deepest earthquakes could help unravel one of the most mysterious geophysical processes on Earth.

Fracking and earthquake risk
Earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing can damage property and endanger lives.

Earthquake symmetry
A recent study investigated around 100,000 localized seismic events to search for patterns in the data.

Crowdsourcing speeds up earthquake monitoring
Data produced by Internet users can help to speed up the detection of earthquakes.

Geophysics: A surprising, cascading earthquake
The Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand in 2016 caused widespread damage.

Read More: Earthquake News and Earthquake Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.