US Geological Survey uses the micro-blogging site to quickly gather information about earthquakes around the globe through the use of a system – Twitter Earthquake Detection (Ted) which put behind USGS’ own sensors on Friday when it came to detecting 7.6 magnitude earthquake off the Philippine coast.

The Ted system gathers earth-quake related messages (Tweets) in real-time from Twitter. The system takes into consideration various parameters like place, time, keywords, photographs of affected places where tremors have been detected. Online information posted by people, Tweets in this case, can be picked up faster by researchers as compared to scientific alerts.

The Ted also issues alerts for earthquakes that occur across the globe with 5.5 magnitude and above. Beyond the above parameters the alerts also include other information like the frequency of tweets with keyword ‘earthquake’ in and around the affected region.


Paul Caruso, from the US Geological Survey, said: ‘We do have sensors and it usually takes about five minutes before the sensors will see the earthquake.”

“With this earthquake it was the case that Ted warnings that people were tweeting that they felt an earthquake actually came in before our seismometers actually registered it.”

[Update: 03/09/2012@ 08:25 UT] We have spotted on Bloomberg that tweets were detected by the agency exactly 1 minute and 7 seconds after the earthquake, earlier than seismometers. Paul Earle, a USGS seismologist, said to Bloomberg in a telephonic interview that “Tweet Earthquake Dispatch, is most effective in remote regions, where the agency does not have as many instruments for measuring seismic activity as it does in an earthquake-prone area such as California.”


[Source: Sky News Australia]