SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The world’s largest earthquake monitoring network is being established in the Bay Area.

The Quake-Catcher Network relies on so-called citizen seismologists. Stanford University Assistant Professor of Geophysics Jesse Lawrence, who’s helping to create the system, said 6,000 matchbox-sized sensors will be attached to home and office computers around the Western United States. The result will be the densest network of seismic sensors ever created.

The group is currently looking for regular citizens to help make this system a reality.

“It should just sit in the background using a small percentage of your CUP, a small percentage of your Internet bandwidth and you hopefully won’t notice it most of the time,” he said.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

When an earthquake strikes, Lawrence said the sensors will activate and send the data to Stanford computer servers.

The network will be in the testing phase for the next few years. When it’s up-and-running, the warning system should be able to alert people no matter where they are.

“We do hope that eventually the notification system will be an automated system where it could go out to your cell phone with an app or your desktop computer,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence added that if the warning system had been in place during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, The Bay Area may have had a potentially life-saving thirty-second warning.

For more information on this network and to find out how you can volunteer to be a citizen seismologist, visit

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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