Scientists looking for new ways to track and study earthquakes have said it would be really helpful if everyone carried around small devices capable of recording accurate motion and location data.

Oh, wait. They do.

A new study has proposed using smartphones to create a real-time urban seismic network, to study large earthquakes - and one day even predict them.

Published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, the study showed that the accelerometer inside a standard iPhone is able to detect a moderate to strong earthquake larger than magnitude 5, if located close to the epicentre.

Antonino D'Alessandro and Giuseppe D'Anna, seismologists at Istituto Nazionale di Geosifica e Vulcanologia in Italy, said that the sensors are quickly getting eve more accurate - and that it could be possible soon to create a network which could transmit real-time data to a central location.

In a press release, the team said:

The current state of the MEMS sensors, suggest the authors, could be used for the creation of an urban seismic network that could transmit in real-time ground motion data to a central location for assessment. The rich volume of data could help first responders identify areas of greatest potential damage, allowing them to allocate resources more effectively.

Now if only there was a popular mobile phone company located close to a major earthquake zone...

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