London, July 1 : Internet traffic counters used to measure web hits could rival dedicated seismological equipment as a way of detecting earthquakes.
According to a report in New Scientist, visits to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre's (EMSC) website surge after a quake as people rush to find out what has hit them.
Now, EMSC researchers have used software to map visitors by their IP addresses.
The technique accurately located an earthquake in February 2007 near the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean within just 15 minutes.
The software also identified regions that had lost internet access from a lack of hits, giving information on quake damage not provided by traditional equipment.
The technique could help record small quakes that are nonetheless worrying for residents.