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Earthquake Sensors Detecting Bombings in Ukraine


The use of existing seismometers in Ukraine has been repurposed to detect the timing and locations of explosions in provinces near Kyiv. Originally used for monitoring nuclear weapons tests or earthquake detection, these seismometers now provide valuable insights into the ammunition and weapons used in bombings. This innovative approach allows for the real-time detection and analysis of explosions in an active conflict zone.

Automatic Detection of Explosions

Ben Dando and his colleagues at NORSAR, a seismic research foundation in Norway, have developed algorithms that can automatically process data from the seismometers in Ukraine. These algorithms provide alerts within 10 to 15 minutes of an explosion, enabling quick response and analysis. By analyzing seismic waves and their arrival times at nearby sensors, the location and timing of each explosion can be determined.

Effective Monitoring near Kyiv

The technique works especially well within a 200 kilometer radius of the Malin seismic station northwest of Kyiv. This station, initially established for monitoring nuclear explosions, has an array of 24 seismic sensors, along with infrasound sensors that can detect sound waves beyond human hearing. However, monitoring in eastern Ukraine poses challenges due to the lack of sufficient sensors.

Potential for Tracking Explosions

Seismic monitoring holds the promise of tracking the number, timing, and relative sizes of explosions. Michael Pasyanos at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory cautions that the estimates of explosive yield may not be precise enough to identify a specific weapon used in each blast. He also highlights the potential difficulties in implementing seismic monitoring in the Middle East, Africa, and South America, where seismic arrays are relatively scarce. However, the use of portable seismic sensors could help overcome these challenges by rapidly deploying dense networks for analysis.


Repurposing earthquake sensors for detecting bombings in Ukraine is a groundbreaking approach that provides real-time insights into explosions during active conflicts. While challenges exist in terms of precision and the availability of seismic networks in other regions, this innovative technique opens up new possibilities for monitoring and analyzing explosive events around the world.

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