Wanna Loan Out Your Laptop To The USGS?

Since U.S.G.S. researchers don't have sufficient equipment or computing power to do all they want to do, they are asking for your help!

They want to borrow your laptops or maybe even a bit of space in your basement or garage by basically looking for folks to help with their participation by equipping laptop computers with special software or installing quake sensors at home.

It's called The Quake-Catcher Network and right now they have only 300 participants in the program, and only 50 in the state of California, which is a fairly quake prone region that experiences around 10,000 quakes a year. The majority of which are too small to feel, but it's still something.

They've specified laptops because newer laptops have an accelerometer that is set up to detect any sudden motion. The original design of this gizmo is to detect sudden motion and activate features that might protect the hard drive from loss of data.

A volunteer can download and install software from the USGS that uses this info. When the USGS knows there's been a quake, they can use the data you've given them to derive better information. That way, a passing truck or what not is not a false hit.

The other part of the project involves a little bit of home space in their basement or garage for a portable seismometer, of which they will begin testing this part in the Bay Area next year. To participate, residents must have a wireless Internet connection to allow the device to communicate with the USGS network and space for a the mini-seismometer.

And no, stomping on it won't set off false alarms. They will look at the data when a known event occurs to better triangulate their seismic information.

U.S. Geological Survey: http://www.usgs.gov
Quake-Catcher Network: http://qcn.stanford.edu