Earthquake Early Warning System
National seismic hazard map for the United States. Colors indicate peak horizontal ground acceleration (in % g) with a 10% probability of exceedance in 50 years. The earthquake early warning system is initially being developed in the western United States (California and Washington) where the seismic hazards are greatest and the density of seismic instruments approaches what is necessary to produce a useful warning.
An Earthquake Early Warning System for the west coast of the United States is being developed by the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with scientists at academic institutions including: California Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Washington. Under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, popularly known as the Stafford Act(P.L. 92–288), the USGS has the Federal responsibility to issue alerts for earthquakes, to enhance public safety, and to reduce losses through effective forecasts and warnings. USGS currently issues rapid, automatic earthquake information via the Internet, email, text messages, and social media.
Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) uses existing seismic networks to detect moderate to large earthquakes very rapidly so that a warning can be sent before destructive seismic waves arrive to locations outside the area where the earthquake begins. These warnings allow people to take protective action and can also triggering automatic responses to safeguard critical infrastructure.
Earthquake early warning can be used to slow and stop trains, alert and protect critical infrastructure, and provide a few seconds for people to take cover.
Such actions might include:
- allow people to drop, cover and hold on and grant businesses time to shut down and move workers to safe locations,
- give medical professionals time to stop delicate procedures,
- protect travelers by providing time for trains to slow or stop, for elevator doors to open, for bridge traffic to clear, for slowing or stopping traffic, and even stopping landings and take-offs at airports, and
- enable emergency responders to prepare by opening fire station doors and starting generators.
Earthquake Early Warning - ShakeAlert.org
- Doug Given, Earthquake Early Warning Coordinator
Doug Given is the USGS Earthquake Early Warning Coordinator who is organizing the efforts of USGS and its university partners to develop an earthquake early warning capability for the United States. He is also the Project Chief for Southern California Earthquake Monitoring and manages both the seismic and GPS earthquake monitoring networks in southern California. These networks process more than 12,000 earthquakes each year and provide real-time earthquake information to emergency responders, engineers, and scientists.
- Elizabeth Cochran, Research Geophysicist
Elizabeth Cochran is a geophysicist conducting research on earthquake early warning, new seismic instrumentation, and fault slip behavior. She is currently investigating new techniques to densely monitor strong ground motions in urban areas. The data collected by new types of sensors may be used to augment the existing seismic networks to aid in the study of earthquake rupture processes, block-by-block variations in ground motion, and provide useful data for earthquake early warning systems.
Other USGS personnel are contributing to the Earthquake Early Warning including scientists in Menlo Park and Pasadena; additionally, support for early warning come from the Natural Hazards Mission Area of the USGS.