Abstract

MyShake harnesses private and personal smartphones to build a global seismic network. It uses the accelerometers embedded in all smartphones to record ground motions induced by earthquakes, returning recorded waveforms to a central repository for analysis and research. A demonstration of the power of citizen science, MyShake expanded to six continents within days of being launched and has recorded 757 earthquakes in the first 2 yr of operation. The data recorded by MyShake phones have the potential to be used in scientific applications, thereby complementing current seismic networks. In this article, we (1) report the capabilities of smartphone sensors to detect earthquakes by analyzing the earthquake waveforms collected by MyShake; (2) determine the maximum epicentral distance at which MyShake phones can detect earthquakes as a function of magnitude; and (3) then determine the capabilities of the MyShake network to estimate the location, origin time, depth, and magnitude of earthquakes. In the case of earthquakes for which MyShake has provided four or more phases (P‐ or S‐wave signals) and an azimuthal gap <180° (21 events), the median (± standard deviations) of the location, origin time, and depth errors are 2.7 (±2.8) km, 0.2 (±1.2) s, and 0.1 (±4.9) km, respectively, relative to the U.S. Geological Survey global catalog locations. Magnitudes are also estimated and have a mean error of 0.0 and standard deviation of 0.2. These preliminary results suggest that MyShake could provide basic earthquake catalog information in regions that currently have no traditional networks. With an expanding MyShake network, we expect the event detection capabilities to improve and provide useful data on seismicity and hazards.

You do not currently have access to this article.