How people use Twitter to detect earthquakes


Yes, you might be surprised, but Twitter can be used for detecting various seismic activity in the world. In particular, the USGS (United States Geological Survey) is using Twitter’s public API to track down earthquakes across the globe through tweets of users.

The USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) relies on about 2,000 earthquake sensors, but they’re largely located in the US, which means a lot of the world goes uncovered.


The study of earthquake-related tweets revealed interesting results. For example – users tweeting about real earthquakes tend to keep their posts short — seven words or fewer.

Another thing is that users who are actually experiencing earthquakes don’t includes links or details about magnitude in their tweets.

Using the above mentioned filters, the scientists found out that data from Twitter can be used effectively to detect earthquakes, typically delivering alerts in under two minutes.

In 2014, the tweets were used to detect an earthquake in Napa, California in 29 seconds, and are now looking to more closely integrate Twitter data in their seismic algorithms.

While Twitter of course isn’t a primary option when it comes to detecting possible seismic activity or earthquakes, it does give scientists and researchers an additional tool to work with.


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