Pacific Northwest Seismic Network tests new earthquake warning system

By on February 19, 2015

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network will begin testing an advanced earthquake warning system in February, according to a release from the University of Washington. The new system will be mostly software-based and link up to sirens that will emit blaring noises and verbal alerts.

It is the region’s first such tool for warning of coming earthquakes, according to the release. A pilot version of the system is being rolled out to a select number of businesses who signed up to take part.

“We have found capable partners that will give us good feedback, but we also value diversity,” said John Vidale, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington, in a statement. “The test group is a cross-section of our region’s economy so we can find the best ways of reducing losses from the next earthquake.”

The system relies on around 240 seismometers that are installed throughout the states of Washington and Oregon. Those sensors detect vibrations and send readings to computers at the University of Washington, which houses the seismic network. Within about 10 minutes, those computers create an automated report of the activity. The new warning system looks to beat that time by generating alerts within 4 seconds of the detection of harmless seismic waves related to bigger quakes.

Top image: The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network is working on a new earthquake warning system. (Credit: USGS)

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