Here's how Early Warning System can Help People in Preparing for 'The Big One'

By KM Diaz, | June 12, 2017

San Andreas Fault in California (YouTube)

San Andreas Fault in California (YouTube)

California likely rolls out earthquake warning system sometime in 2018. Although the system is said to be in a limited rollout, it can at least provide an earlier warning to help people in preparing for "The Big One."

Some say California is prone to catastrophes and it is an earthquake country. Scientists and experts predict that "the big one" could hit the area within the next 30 years, destroying compromised buildings and infrastructure across Southern California. Recently, scientists have found some evidence that "the big one" could hit sooner than previously believed.

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The earthquake will likely start in San Andreas Fault, indicates the border between North American Plate and the Pacific Plate. Experts warned that this fault is capable of producing powerful, massive temblor. It could happen on fairly regular basis and a recent study also shows that there is not much time left.

Normally, people duck under desks when the quake occurs, while others run outside as they thought it would be safer. However, researchers say that this practice could be dangerous since glass, roofing, and masonry can fall. As soon as the earthquake ends, aftershocks will occur. These are said to be dangerous than temblor as key infrastructure will be cut off. 

Now, officials are already planning to roll out the early warning system, a lifesaver and similar to the one used in Japan. The system works by detecting, locating, and recording the first seismic waves. The system will be installed in the ground, operators are hired to make sure that the system is properly staffed and the software is being improved as well, according to Egill Hauksson, a seismologist in Caltech.

How the Warning System Could Help People

The limited public rollout will include school classrooms linked to the early warning system. The warning system will alert the students that earthquake is on the way. That means they will have about a minute to prepare, cover, and drop under their desk. Moreover, the system could automatically stop commuter trains and open firehouse garage doors, thus saving thousands of lives.

A commuter rail system in the San Francisco Bay Area, BART, is already using the warning system which is programmed in trains to slow down when the system detects an incoming earthquake.

Diego Melgar, a research geophysicist from the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, explains that when the system is already available, people will receive a warning in computers and phones saying "strong earthquake is expected in your location".

The system has been in development for the past years, some criticized its $10 million price tag and slow rollout. But officials say that they only want to make sure that the system operates properly before finally deploying it in general public. The system is expected to go online in 2018 and the rollout will be in stages. The end goal is a West Coast-wide system - from Mexico to Canada.

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