Kern County has a new way to monitor earthquakes

TEHACHAPI, Calif. - Kern County has a new way to monitor earthquakes.

Inside a house in Golden Hills there is a little blue box that can detect the slightest movements in the earth’s crust.

It’s one of only three earthquake monitors in Kern County and its newest one.

"We pick up seismic activity several times a week," said local earthquake enthusiast Stan Ballard.

Ballard has had an interest in earthquakes for over 30 years.

So he jumped at the chance to have an earthquake monitor from the U.S. Geological Survey in his home.

"I found that they had a volunteer monitoring system so I applied for it and got picked for it," Ballard said.

It’s bolted to the concrete foundation of the home and can detect side to side movement as well as up and down.

"We’ll hear something rattle or hear the house groan and then about a half hour later I’ll go look at the graph and it will show up," Ballard said.

Even though it’s very sensitive it has special sensors that keep it from picking up every little bump.

Ballard puts a fence around the monitor when his 11-month-old German Shepherd Duke is inside.

"We have a puppy and the puppy likes to chew up stuff and we are worried he might chew off the wireless antenna," Ballard said.

But there is serious science being done there.

Scientists said nearby faults have become more active recently and so they want to keep a closer eye on them.

"The slight movement could be showing a change in the pressures between one side of the fault and the other," Ballard said.

He said the biggest quake he has recorded in the two months he has had the monitor is a 1.2. Just this morning it caught a small tremor.

But he said even the smallest quake could be a sign of something building and that could help seismologists predict the big one.

He said a recent tremor demonstrated the connection.

"It was probably point 7 or so and then a few minutes later there was a 4.5 in Los Angeles about 30 seconds later," Ballard said.

If you would like to monitor the site just click on this link:

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