The Effectiveness of a California Earthquake Early Warning System

Gordon Woo and Maurizio Gobbato

Risk Management Solutions

Date & Time
Building 3, Rambo Auditorium
Sarah Minson

The effectiveness of an Earthquake Early Warning System (EEWS) in lowering the risk of earthquake casualties depends to a large extent on the seismic vulnerability of buildings. In California, the potential casualty count is mitigated by the high safety standards of construction. Furthermore, in the near-field of a major earthquake, where the shaking is most intense, there may be little or no earthquake warning; or there may be few people at risk. However, rather than ‘drop-cover-hold’, there is a distinct injury mitigation benefit in Californians using the precious seconds of early warning to find an optimal place under which to ‘duck-cover-hold’. Assessment of the effectiveness of an EEWS requires use of a catastrophe earthquake model, which can estimate the EEWS casualty and injury reduction on a scenario by scenario basis. In this presentation, with focus on the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles region, the potential benefits of an EEWS for several earthquake events in California will be shown and discussed (see Fig.1). Taking a thirty-year time frame, the results confirm the expectation that the long-term safety investment in installing and operating a California EEWS would be warranted by the number of lives saved and the reduced injury toll and fire loss following an earthquake.

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