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Lawmaker, Scientists Call for Early-Warning System on San Andreas Fault

The initial cost estimate of $80 million would help pay for ground sensors and relays that could provide text and mobile alerts in the event of a quake on the San Andreas Fault near Redlands and Loma Linda.

A lawmaker in Los Angeles County announced proposed legislation Monday to create an earthquake-warning system that could give California residents up to 60 seconds advance notice when a temblor strikes.

The initial cost estimate of $80 million would help pay for ground sensors and relays that could provide text and mobile alerts in the event of a quake on the San Andreas Fault near Redlands and Loma Linda, according to Caltech scientists and state Sen. Alex Padilla, who represents the San Fernando Valley.

"California is going to have an earthquake early warning system," Padilla, D-Van Nuys, said at a news conference at Caltech in Pasadena. "The question is whether we have one before or after the next big quake."

Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Turkey, Romania, Italy and China either have or are working on earthquake early warning systems.

Building on the existing California Integrated Seismic Network, seismologists hope for a system that will process data from sensors throughout the state, Padilla's staff said in a statement.

"The system would effectively detect the strength and the progression of earthquakes, alert the public within seconds and provide up to 60 seconds advanced warning before potentially damaging ground shaking is felt," Padilla's staff said.

A fully-developed early warning system could provide Californians critical seconds to take cover, assist loved ones, pull to the side of the road, or exit a building, Padilla said. It could also allow time to stop a train or power down other critical infrastructure, Padilla said.

An earthquake warning would not only alert the public, it would also speed responses of police and fire personnel by quickly identifying areas hardest hit by the quake, Padilla said.

"We firmly believe Earthquake Early Warning would save lives and help California in many ways if it is rolled out as a fully operational system," said Dr. Michael Gurnis, professor of geophysics and director of Caltech's Seismological Laboratory.

About 90 percent of the world's earthquakes and more than 80 percent of the world's strongest quakes occur along the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, and the active San Andreas Fault zone, Padilla said.

Three weeks ago, the California Institute of Technology and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology published a study concluding for the first time that a statewide California earthquake involving both the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas may be possible, Padilla said.

The Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast released in 2008 predicted a 99.7 percent likelihood of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in California in the next 30 years and a 94 percent chance of a magnitude 7.0.

To read the study on a statewide earthquake go to: http://www.caltech.edu/content/faulty-behavior.

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El Jibaro de Lytle Creek January 30, 2013 at 05:47 PM
California should use funds currently allocated for the WAR on Drugs to put into place this system that will save many lives. Maybe this is too radical a thought and may subject me to enhance rendition in Cuba? Oy Veh
Amber January 31, 2013 at 01:19 AM
El Jibaro whatever your name is, does it look like that they are worried about drugs in that place? I think not btw if you can read correctly, they are talking about the san Andrea's fault line and when the next big earthquake is going to happen. Drugs has nothing to do with the San Andreas Fault Line. READ and THINK before you say something

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