Canadian Consulting Engineer

Earlier warning of earthquakes now possible

Two researchers in the U.S. have found a way to predict earthquakes tens of seconds earlier than was possible previ...

May 12, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Two researchers in the U.S. have found a way to predict earthquakes tens of seconds earlier than was possible previously. Reported in Science and Scientific American magazines on May 5, the system is named “ElarmS” and records the pulses from primary (p) waves, rather than the secondary (s) waves that cause the destructive tremors and are used to measure an earthquake’s magnitude.
Primary waves consist of the first pulse of energy to radiate from the quake’s point of origin and travel twice as fast as the secondary waves.
Richard Allen of the University of Wisconsin and Hiroo Kanamori of the California Institute of Technology developed ElarmS using historical earthquake data collected by an array of sensors spread throughout southern California. The state is now going to integrate the program into its existing TriNet network of seismic sensors.
Though the new prediction system using p-waves only saves seconds, it could provide time to turn off gas lines or water mains, or to hide under a table before the big earth moving tremors hit. Allen believes that the system can be integrated into buildings, transportation and other infrastructure so that they can be programmed to react and respond to these incoming waves.


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