Tweets used as earthquake warning system

September 4, 2012

Twitter Earthquake Detection (credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

Seismologists using Twitter to detect tremors say the social network beat their own advanced equipment in spotting a 7.6 earthquake on Friday off the Philippines, Sky News reports.

The system, called Twitter Earthquake Detection (Ted), which gathers real-time, earthquake-related Twitter messages, is being used as an early-warning system by the US Geological Survey (USGS) to quickly gather information about earthquakes around the globe.

It takes into account place and time, and uses keyword filtering to gather accounts of tremors. It can also help to gather photographs of the areas affected.

Tweets from the ground can be picked up by researchers within seconds, while scientific alerts can take between two and 20 minutes.