Department Colloquium Series


Monday, December 3, 2018, 12:00pm


Haller Hall Geo Museum 102

Speaker: Director Richard Allen Berkeley Seismological Laboratory

Title: MyShake: Global earthquake detection with smartphones

Abstract: Our understanding of earthquakes and the hazards they pose is data-limited. MyShake is an effort to build a dense global seismic network to study earthquakes, shallow earth structure, and reduce the risk to societies in earthquake-prone regions. The project harnesses personal/private smartphones and detects earthquakes using the accelerometer in every phone. Since its launch, 300,000 users have downloaded the free app from the GooglePlay store, and about 7000 phones provide seismic waveform data each day. The network is able to rapidly detect and characterize earthquakes and will soon start providing earthquake early warning. Exploration of the full potential of the data is only just beginning, but includes the study of earthquakes with magnitudes as low at M1.6, seismic noise characteristics across the urban environment, and characterization of building response to earthquakes.

Short Bio: Richard Allen is the Director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, and the Class of 1954 Professor in the the Dept. of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. He is an expert in earthquake alerting systems, developing methodologies to detect earthquakes and issue warnings prior to shaking and tsunamis. His group uses seismic and GPS sensing networks, including the use of a global network of tens of thousands of smartphones called MyShake. Allen’s group also uses geophysical sensing networks to image the internal 3D structure of the Earth and constrain the driving forces responsible for earthquakes, volcanoes and other deformation of the Earth’s surface. His research has been featured in Science, Nature, Scientific American, the New York Times and dozens of other media outlets around the world. He has a BA from Cambridge University, a PhD from Princeton University, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech.Richard is currently spending a sabbatical at the Dept of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University.

R. Allen webpic