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California residents may get earthquake warning technology


A San Fernando Valley lawmaker introduced proposed legislation Tuesday that would create an $80 million earthquake-warning system designed to give California residents as much as 60 seconds of advance notice of a temblor.

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

Padilla said the system would work using a system of sensors located throughout the state that would provide as much as one minute of warning of a pending quake. He cited a recent study by Caltech and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology that concluded such a system could be implemented.

“A fully developed earthquake early warning system would 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 allow time to stop a train or power down other critical infrastructure. The earthquake warning would not only alert the public, it would also speed the response of police and fire personnel by quickly identifying areas hardest hit by the quake.”

Michael Gurnis, director of the Caltech Seismological Laboratory, said such a system “would save lives and help California in many ways if it is rolled out as a fully operational system.”

“For decades Caltech and UC Berkeley have worked with the U.S. Geological Survey on science that can help the public in the event of a major quake,” Gurnis said. “Earthquake Early Warning is a ripe area for development of a system that can provide a few seconds to tens of seconds of advance notice for many people in the event of a major earthquake.”