Never guess again, AI can now detect Earthquakes

October 15, 2018

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Researchers have revealed a radical new use of AI - to predict earthquakes.

 

A team from Tokyo Metropolitan University have used machine-learning techniques to analyze tiny changes in geomagnetic fields.

 

These allow the system, to predict natural disaster far earlier than current methods.

 

A team from Tokyo Metropolitan University have used machine-learning techniques to analyze tiny changes in geomagnetic fields. These allow the system, to predict natural disaster far earlier than current methods.

 

'It is known that earthquakes and tsunamis are accompanied by localized changes in the geomagnetic field,' the researchers, led by Associate Professor Kan Okubo from Tokyo Metropolitan University, wrote.

 

'For earthquakes, it is primarily what is known as a piezo-magnetic effect, where the release of a massive amount of accumulated stress along a fault causes local changes in geomagnetic field; for tsunamis, it is the sudden, vast movement of the sea that causes variations in atmospheric pressure. 

 

An aerial photo shows the aftermath of a large landslide that occurred after an earthquake hit Hokkaido, in Atsuma, northern Japan. A team from Tokyo Metropolitan University have used machine-learning techniques to analyze tiny changes in geomagnetic fields that could predict quakes earlier 

 

'This in turn affects the ionosphere, subsequently changing the geomagnetic field.'  

 

The team developed a state-of-the-art machine-learning algorithm modelled on how neurons are connected inside the human brain.  

 

By feeding the algorithm a vast amount of input taken from historical measurements, they let it create and optimize an extremely complex, multi-layered set of operations that most effectively maps the data to what was actually measured. 

 

Using half a million data points taken over 2015, they were then able to create a network that can estimate the magnetic field at the observation point with unprecedented accuracy.

 

HOW TO PREDICT A QUAKE WITH MAGNETIC FIELDS 

It is known that earthquakes and tsunamis are accompanied by localized changes in the geomagnetic field. 

 

For earthquakes, it is primarily what is known as a piezo-magnetic effect, where the release of a massive amount of accumulated stress along a fault causes local changes in geomagnetic field; for tsunamis, it is the sudden, vast movement of the sea that causes variations in atmospheric pressure. 

 

This in turn affects the ionosphere, subsequently changing the geomagnetic field.

 

Both can be detected by a network of observation points at various locations. 

 

The major benefit of such an approach is speed; remembering that electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light, we can instantaneously detect the incidence of an event by observing changes in geomagnetic field.

 

'Given the relatively low computational cost of DNNs, the system may potentially be paired with a network of high sensitivity detectors to achieve lightning-fast detection of earthquakes and tsunamis, delivering an effective warning system that can minimize damage and save lives,' the team say.

 

'developing a more accurate warning system could give residents sufficient time to seek safety such as heading to higher ground or getting to earthquake shelters.' 

 

The study was published in the journal IEICE Communications Express.

 

 

HOW ARE EARTHQUAKES MEASURED?

The magnitude of an earthquake differs from its intensity.

 

The magnitude of an earthquake refers to the measurement of energy released where the earthquake originated.

 

Magnitude is calculated based on measurements on seismographs.

 

The intensity of an earthquake refers to how strong the shaking that is produced by the sensation is.

 

 

 

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California on Thursday at 10.30am

 

According to the United States Geological Survey, 'intensity is determined from the effects on people, human structures and the natural environment'.

 

Earthquakes originate below the surface of the earth in a region called the hypocenter. 

During an earthquake, one part of a seismograph remains stationary and one part moves with the earth's surface.

 

The earthquake is then measured by the difference in the positions of the still and moving parts of the seismograph. 

 

 

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