Thursday, February 24, 2011

[californiadisasters] EQ Early Warning System a Reality in CA

Earthquake Early Warning System a Reality in California

By Adam Housley

Published February 23, 2011


What if you could be alerted before the only natural disaster that offers no warning actually hits? Even if the alert came just seconds sooner? 

In California's Coachella Valley around Palm Springs, a state-of-the-art, first-in-the-world earthquake early warning system in now installed and operational. Twelve locations are now in place with 120 sites planned, all meant to detect an earthquake and give people a chance to get under a table, or in the case of a fire station, get the engines outside of the building.

Created by a Silicon Valley startup, QuakeGuard sensors are designed to detect the initial, or "P" energy waves given off by every quake, even though  it's only the later, or "S" waves that do all the damage. The time in-between the two waves varies depending on the proximity to the epicenter and as the first sensor closest to the quake goes off, it can offer advance notice  -- from a few seconds to a full minute-- to other locations farther away.

As former seismic safety commissioner Dennis Mileti tells us, "This is the No. 1 line of defense to accomplish the most basic objective in responding to an earthquake ... duck, cover and hold on, and it can motivate people to do that before the ground starts shaking. Every other natural hazard has warnings issued for it, earthquakes don't. This is the way to provide some warning."

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