NASA Begins Testing GPS-Based Earthquake Detection System

NASA has a new trick up its sleeve: a GPS system that is designed to locate the exact positon of serious earthquakes. Known as the Real-time Earthquake Analysis for Disaster (READI) Mitigation Network, it's being tested in the western US -- and it's hoped it will save lives in the process.

The system gathers GPS data from over 500 locations across Washington, Oregon and California, so that once a major earthquake is detected it can determine the exact location of the quake, along with its magnitude and details about its fault ruptures.

While the system has been in development in collaboration with universities since 2004, this marks the first time it will be used in a real-life setting. Currently, it's actually extremely difficult to rapidly pinpoint the exact location of an earthquake -- and it's hoped READI can change that. The same system can also be used to detect tsunamis.

Once testing comes to a close, it's hoped READI will be used by natural disaster detection agencies across the US, including the USGS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [NASA]

Image: USACEpublicaffairs/Flickr