Early Earthquake Warning System Could Roll Out Next Year

Southern Californians have lived with the threat of the 'Big One' over their heads for many years, but an early warning system could give residents a heads-up before the shaking beings. 

In news that is sure to make a sequel to 2015's San Andreas even more likely, scientists building the early detection network tell the Los Angeles Times that they've begun the process of deploying an early earthquake warning system known as CISN ShakeAlert and the public could receive early warnings next year. 

The system relies on the fact that earthquake waves can only travel as fast as the speed of sound through rock, which is far slower than modern communications infrastructure. If a major 7.5 earthquake occurs in the Salton Sea area, it can take more than a minute for the shaking to reach Los Angeles. 

CISN ShakeAlert uses existing infrastructure from the California Integrated Seismic Network, including real-time waveform datastreams from around 380 broadband and strong-motion stations throughout California. 

California lawmakers approved more than $10 million for the early warning system last summer, and were used to accelerate the research and development for the ShakeAlert system. The early warning system is being built under the U.S. Geological Survey with scientists and researchers from Caltech, UC Berkeley, University of Washington and the University of Oregon contributing. 

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