The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Monday, 21 January 2019 01:00

Earthquake-warning application developed in California

ShakeAlert-application ShakeAlert-application.

A brand-new application is able to alert people in time when earthquakes strike in California.

ShakeAlert is a warning system capable of detecting seismic events quickly enough to warn people before the shaking initiates. Developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and some university partners, the application will be the first earthquake early warning system to be widely released in the U.S.

The application, available for Apple and Android mobiles, is functional only in Los Angeles district. Eric Garcetti, the Major of Los Angeles, encourages other cities to follow LA's initiative. "We weren't looking to be the first, we weren't looking to be the only — we want all of California, all of this country, wherever there's earthquakes to use this. Somebody had to develop it. We stepped forward and we did," he said during a press conference Thursday.

ShakeAlert operates by using data from 800 earthquake sensors of the USGS network. Those sensors detect primary P-waves and secondary S-waves that travel though the ground causing the shaking. The amount of time that people have before those waves reach their area depends on their distance from the tremblor's epicenter and on the wave velocity.

The seismic waves travel relatively fast in the ground and therefore the alert will provide people with few but valuable seconds to react. "The purpose of early warning is to get people into that safe place before the shaking starts instead of once the shaking starts. If you have a few seconds, you can get under a sturdy table, you can get away from that bookcase, you can move away from hazardous materials, you can move away from the places you are likely to be injured," Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, stated.


Read 174 times Last modified on Monday, 21 January 2019 16:18


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