PALO ALTO (KCBS) – Stanford’s quake-catcher network detected Monday’s quake, centered near El Cerrito, 10 seconds before the shaking reached campus, and it has already proven effective in detecting aftershocks near Christchurch, New Zealand. Scientists have said those extra seconds could save lives in future disasters.

A web of sensors are plugged into the computers of 2,000 volunteers around the globe. About 100 of them are in the Bay Area.

“Right now we’re still doing the evaluation of the network, and the evaluation of the techniques that we’re using,” said Stanford Assistant Geophysics Professor Jesse Lawrence. “This really is a scientific endeavor to really see if we can do earthquake seismology in a better, more efficient, and cheaper way.”

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

Traditional earthquake sensors, such as those placed throughout the country by the United States Geological Survey, cost $3,000 each. The network Stanford researchers used employed sensors that cost up to $150.

“This is one of the first times it’s responded so well in the United States,” said Lawrence. “We’ve had many good reactions to aftershocks in the New Zealand region.”

Eventually the hope is to provide real time notification, meaning that we will know that it’s an earthquake that is occurring, rather than questioning if what we’re feeling is really is an earthquake. This will allow us to have several more seconds to seek shelter.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (2)
  1. Jman says:

    I do not think the earthquake was “predicted.” The title is misleading. The earthquake was detected quickly and the information transmitted to the Stanford system before the seismic waves arrived.

    1. carloscbs5 says:

      A very good point. Thank you for the feedback. We have clarified the headline. -Ed.

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