From Livermore Lab: “Lab seismic research on display at California Academy of Sciences” 

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

“Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory seismologists will be on hand Wednesday at the media premiere of the California Academy of Sciences’ new show, Earthquake: Evidence of a Restless Planet.

Simulation of a possible M 7.05 Hayward Fault earthquake on the scale of the Bay Area.

Earthquake is a new planetarium show and major exhibit that will open to the public on May 26. The show will launch visitors on a tour through space and time — flying over the San Andreas fault before diving into the planet’s interior, traveling back in time to witness both the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the breakup of Pangaea (the supercontinent) 200 million years ago.

With an emphasis on scientifically accurate data, the show draws heavily from the expertise of key partners. Lawrence Livermore provided accurate ground motion simulations for the 1906 earthquake, ground motions for a hypothetical earthquake on the Hayward Fault, visualizations of seismic waves traveling through the Earth, and a temperature map of Earth’s interior based on imaging with seismic waves.

‘The LLNL team is happy to have contributed data to the show and thrilled to see the results in such a stunning visual form,’ said Arthur Rodgers, a seismologist at LLNL. “It’s also satisfying to know that many people might learn something they didn’t know about earthquakes or plate tectonics through work done at LLNL.”

See the full article here.

If you are interested in seismology and live in the right place, you can participate in the work of the Quake-Catcher Network.


The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC). The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).


Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

Two Types of Sensors

There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

Apply for a USB Sensor

If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

Livermore Lab is operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration