California’s Earthquake Early Warning System Works As Expected

(SGVN/Photos by Walt Mancini/SXCity)

(SGVN/Photos by Walt Mancini/SXCity)

In a Monday, the 4.7 magnitude earthquake that transpired in Anza brought some excitement since it is an event that California’s earthquake early warning system proved that it serves its purpose. This system has been operational for more than a year and the Anza earthquake provided an opportunity to test it.

Hundreds of sensors embedded in the ground sent a 30 seconds early warning of the earthquake that transpired at the desert town of Anza, about 35 miles south of Palm Springs. Kate Hutton, a Caltech seismologist who has been among that was alerted by the system said “I sat really still to see if I could feel it and it worked.”

The computer screens at Caltech showed a 30 seconds countdown. It was accurate as the quake was felt after the countdown was over. However, the system has a minor inaccuracy in estimating the quake’s magnitude. It was able to present a 5.2 and not the accurate magnitude which was 4.7. This issue or error is considered not that big of deal as the main purpose of the system is to provide an early warning.

The quake warning system is a project that is expected to develop into a statewide network that will alert people of moderate to strong earthquakes. There are earthquake early warning systems already being used in Japan, Taiwan and Mexico. As of now the system’s reliability will depend on where the sensors are implanted  The sensors need to be placed near active fault zones. The Monday Anza earthquake was along the San Jacinto fault zone, where scientists had placed numerous sensors.

While the system has been receiving private donations, scientists are asking the state for a $80 million funding so they can make the system fully operational. Scientists in Caltech admit that the system still needs some improvement and will need a lot of work before making it available to the public.

California’s earthquake early warning system passes major test | LA Times