[Pardon the ugly site. If anyone wants to send a pretty, but safe and simple update, please do.]


The goal of this project is to provide a means of receiving electrical signals from the Earth's crust and distributing them over the Internet in near-real-time to facilitate research into their predictive value for earthquakes. Multiple scientists have observed low frequency electrical signals coming from the Earth that occur only before earthquakes. For example, this effect is noted in a paper from 2000: Geoelectric potential changes: Possible precursors to earthquakes in Japan.

Typically, signals are received from man-made dipole antennas placed in the ground, some of which are very elaborate and strech for several kilometers. But there's a very effective dipole antenna growing outside your window today, as discovered by Stanford University Electrical Engineering and Geophysics Research Professor Emeritus Antony C. Fraser-Smith. While at Stanford, Fraser-Smith instrumented trees to measure low frequency electromagnetic signals in the Earth. The results from using a tree as antenna compared favorably to man-made ones. The amplifier and even suggested tree types are described in some detail in Fraser-Smith's 1978 Nature paper: ULF Tree Potentials and Geomagnetic Pulsations. Using conventional antennas, Fraser-Smith and A. Bernardi found possibly discernible signals coming from the Earth hours before the 1989 Loma Prieta, California earthquake as described in their 1990 paper in Geophysical Research Letters: Low-Frequency Magnetic Field Measurements near the Epicenter of the Ms 7.1 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Earthquakes can happen at any time in any place in the world. They're widely expected in the "Rim of Fire" around the periphery of the Pacific Ocean, but earthquakes also happen in Africa, Asia, and Europe. We propose placing Fraser-Smith-Bernardi-style sensors and amplifiers in as many places as possible around the world and broadcasting their signals in near-real-time over the Internet. (We would hope to have especially good coverage in common earthquake zones like California, Japan, etc., but nodes anywhere are wanted.) The resulting network of sensors and the means of distributing and receiving data mean that researchers anywhere can use the data to look for earthquake precursor signals in order to possibly generate earthquake warnings. Note that we are proposing to publish the raw, uninterpreted signal data for analysis by others. We may also try to create models to explain the data, but the goal of this project is to make the raw data widely available in near-real-time to researchers around the world. A warning of even a few minutes has the potential to save millions of lives in the event of a major earthquake. Governments and other official bodies have demonstrated little interest in pursuing this potentially life-saving tool, but the technology for collecting and broadcasting the raw data is easily within the reach of many Internet users who are also electronics hobbyists. If you have an Internet connection and know how to solder electronics, please consider setting up a node and adding it to this informal network. The life you save may be your own.

How To

  1. Buy or build amplifier and interface it to an Internet-connected computer, for example at your home or office. See the Fraser-Smith paper for an overview of possible amplifier parameters.
  2. Attach sensor to an appropriate tree and connect it to amplifier.
  3. Register your node and obtain PGP/GPG key to sign your data. (The key essentially defines the network in cyberspace, facilitating useful signals among the noise, spam, abuse, etc.)
  4. Configure and run program to broadcast data over the Internet via RSS, Usenet, etc. (Configuration includes your node's geographic location and tree type.)
  5. Researchers use the data to try to correlate them with earthquakes, ideally resulting in usable predictions and accurate warnings.
The costs to do this are minor and the benefits potentially large. Will you do it?


  1. Possible update of Fraser-Smith's amplifier design for currently available parts.
  2. Printed circuit boards for same, parts lists, parts kits, etc.
  3. Computer interface, specifically analog-to-digital-converter and computer interface, if commonly available ones don't have the performance needed, especially low-frequency response. (Alternatively transform the low frequencies to higher frequencies or some other form for more convenient processing.)
  4. Computer program to collect and broadcast data.
  5. Publicity for project.
  6. As many nodes as possible. These effects are somewhat localized, so the more nodes, the better the coverage and the greater the likelihood of collecting useful observations.
  7. Someone to manage a wiki and/or mailing list.
  8. Someone to manage a PGP/GPG key server, sign keys, etc.
  9. Improved web site, instructions, documentation, etc.
  10. More references.


  1. Ultralow-Frequency Magnetic Fields Preceding Large Earthquakes A. C. Fraser-Smith, American Geophysical Union, EOS, Vol. 89, No. 23, 3 June 2008

    References from the above [pardon the differing citation format]

    • Chapman, S., and J. Bartels (1940), Geomagnetism, vol. 2, Oxford Univ. Press, London.

    • Fraser-Smith, A. C. (1999), Cancellation of natural geomagnetic field fluctuations: An opportunity for new discoveries in the Earth sciences using superconducting magnetic field gradiometers, Final Tech. Rep. A416.1 (for the U.S. Geological Survey), Space, Telecommun. and Radiosci. Lab., Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif., Feb.

    • Fraser-Smith, A. C., A. Bernardi, P. R. McGill, M. E. Ladd, R. A. Helliwell, and O. G. Villard Jr. (1990), Lowfrequency magnetic field measurements near the epicenter of the Ms 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake, Geophys. Res. Lett., 17(9), 1465.1468. [linked below]

    • Fraser-Smith, A. C., P. R. McGill, R. A. Helliwell, and O. G. Villard Jr. (1994), Ultra-low frequency magnetic field measurements in southern California during the Northridge earthquake of 17 January 1994, Geophys. Res. Lett., 21(20), 2195.2198.

    • Hayakawa, M., R. Kawate, O. A. Molchanov, and K. Yumoto (1996), Results of ultra-low-frequency magnetic field measurements during the Guam earthquake of 8 August 1993, Geophys. Res. Lett., 23(3), 241.244.

    • Kopytenko, Y. A., T. G. Matiashvili, P. M. Voronov, E. A. Kopytenko, and O. A. Molchanov (1993), Detection of ultra-low-frequency emissions connected with the Spitak earthquake and its aftershock activity, based on geomagnetic pulsations data at Dusheti and Vardzia observatories, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 77, 85.95.

    • Molchanov, O. A., Y. A. Kopytenko, P. M. Voronov, E. A. Kopytenko, T. Matiashvili, A. C. Fraser-Smith, and A. Bernardi (1992), Results of ULF magnetic field measurements near the epicenters of the Spitak (Ms = 6.9) and the Loma Prieta (Ms = 7.1) earthquakes: Comparative analysis, Geophys. Res. Lett., 19(14), 1495.1498.

    • Moore, G. W. (1964), Magnetic disturbances preceding the 1964 Alaska earthquake, Nature, 203, 508.509.
  2. Low-Frequency Magnetic Field Measurements near the Epicenter of the Ms 7.1 Loma Prieta Earthquake, A. C. Fraser-Smith, A. Bernardi, P. R. McGill, M. E. Ladd, R. A. Helliwell, and O. G. Villard, Jr., Geophysical Research Letters, 1990.

  3. ULF Tree Potentials and Geomagnetic Pulsations, A. C. Fraser-Smith, Nature, 1978.

  4. Geoelectric potential changes: Possible precursors to earthquakes in Japan, S. Uyeda, T. Nagao, Y. Orihara, T. Yamaguchi, and I. Takahashi, Riken International Frontier Research Group on Earthquakes at Tokai University, Shimizu 424-8610, Japan

  5. Electric and magnetic phenomena observed before the volcano-seismic activity in 2000 in the Izu Island Region, Japan, S. Uyeda, M. Hayakawa, T. Nagao, O. Molchanov, K. Hattori, Y. Orihara, K. Gotoh, Y. Akinaga, and H. Tanaka, Riken International Frontier Research Group on Earthquakes, Earthquake Prediction Research Center, Tokai University, 3-20-1, Orido, Shimizu 424-8610, Japan; and National Space Development Agency of Japan Remote Sensing Frontier Research Group, Department of Electronic Engineering, The University of Electro-Communications, 1-5-1 Chofugaoka, Chofu 182-8585, Japan


Please contact jeffc at this domain if you can help in any way.