subscribe to ENR magazine subscribe
contact us
advertise
careers industry jobs
events events
FAQ
Dodge Data & Analytics
ENR Logo
SUBSCRIBE TODAY
& receive immediate web access
comment

Earthquake Warning System Makes Every Second Count

Text size: A A
Image Courtesy of university of california, berkeley
Shock Waves Harmless shock waves known as primary waves (yellow circle) come seconds before slower, destructive secondary waves (red circle).
----- Advertising -----

An early warning system that predicts an earthquake's approaching shock wave up to a minute before it strikes is ready to become operational throughout California. Further, a recently proposed bill would fund expansion of the system.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D), would support the ShakeAlert system, developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and an international coalition of universities. It is based on Japan's primary-wave, or p-wave, detection system.

Japan has used the system to anticipate oncoming shock waves, says Padilla.

"The system is ready for use," says Richard M. Allen, director of the University of California, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. The system will expand and improve upon the existing California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN), which currently has 400 instruments positioned to detect an earthquake's primary shock wave. While the primary wave is harmless, the secondary wave is slower and can be destructive, says Allen. The ShakeAlert system uses an algorithm to predict a quake's magnitude and when the secondary wave will reach certain regions. To make the system fully operational, some regions in the state need more sensors.

"The warning can be sent over the emergency broadcasting system," says Allen. The goal is to send an alert to personal cell phones, too, as Japan's system does, he says.

The bill would expand CISN's network, adding density to the system and upgrading sensors. Test phases of the current system proved successful enough to be adopted by Bay Area Rapid Transit. If the warning system were to send an alarm, the trains would stop automatically.

Allen says $80 million would cover the build-out costs and five years of operating costs. After this time, he predicts the annual operating costs at $16 million.

Keywords:

----- Advertising -----
  Blogs: ENR Staff   Blogs: Other Voices  
Critical Path: ENR's editors and bloggers deliver their insights, opinions, cool-headed analysis and hot-headed rantings
Project Leads/Pulse

Gives readers a glimpse of who is planning and constructing some of the largest projects throughout the U.S. Much information for pulse is derived from McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge.

For more information on a project in Pulse that has a DR#, or for general information on Dodge products and services, please visit our Website at www.dodge.construction.com.

Information is provided on construction projects in following stages in each issue of ENR: Planning, Contracts/Bids/Proposals and Bid/Proposal Dates.

View all Project Leads/Pulse »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.