With the earthquakes taking the toll high these days, your smartphones promise to detect its arrival.
A study conducted in this regard says, small sensors installed in most smartphones and laptops are sensitive enough to detect moderate and large earthquakes – greater than magnitude 5.
The researchers working on the study says, tiny chips used in smartphones to adjust the orientation of the screen could serve to create a real-time urban seismic network, easily increasing the amount of strong motion data collected during a large earthquake.
What is MEMS?
Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems, or MEMS, is a technology that in its most general form can be defined as miniaturized mechanical and electro-mechanical elements (i.e., devices and structures) that are made using the techniques of microfabrication. The critical physical dimensions of MEMS devices can vary from well below one micron on the lower end of the dimensional spectrum, all the way to several millimeters.
Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) accelerometers measure the rate of acceleration of ground motion and vibration of cars, buildings and installations. In the 1990s MEMS accelerometers revolutionized the automotive airbag industry and are found in many devices used daily, including smartphones, video games and laptops.
Antonino D’Alessandro and Giuseppe D’Anna, seismologists at Istituto Nazionale di Geosifica e Vulcanologia in Italy, carried a test on MEMS accelerometers to discover whether they can reliably and accurately detect ground motion caused by earthquakes. They tested the LIS331DLH MEMS accelerometer installed in a smartphone, comparing it to the earthquake sensor EpiSensor ES-T force balance accelerometer. They found that the MEMS accelerometers can detect moderate to strong earthquakes – greater than magnitude 5 – when located near the epicentre.
The device produces sufficient noise to prevent it from accurately detecting lesser quakes – a limitation to its use in monitoring strong motion.
The study is published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA).