$80 Million Earthquake-Warning System Proposed

A state lawmaker introduced legislation to create an $80 million earthquake-warning system that could give Californians 60 seconds to brace for the big one.

A California lawmaker introduced proposed legislation today that would create an $80 million earthquake-warning system designed to give 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.

In August, Californians experienced a swarm of several dozen earthquakes within a couple days including a 4.1 magnitude quake in Orange County.

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.''


Would you be up for an $80 million earthquake warning system if it bought you a minute to brace yourself?

- City News Service

JustUs January 29, 2013 at 05:41 AM
Human beings are so arrogant - to the point that they purport that they can second guess or outthink Mother Nature. HAH! Idiots!!! HAH! :^)
Ann Sue January 29, 2013 at 03:52 PM
That's not the point JU, an alarm has been sounding in my neighborhood for five hours and NOBODY pays any attention and the PD have not responded either. What's the point of a warning system when society is immuned by all of them?
1MantisMon January 29, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Waste of our money - One minute is not worth that kind of money !!! We wonder why California has such a huge debt, think about it. Common sense people!
Yeparoo January 29, 2013 at 04:52 PM
$80 million for a 60 second warning is a bargain. Most would have less than 60 seconds, but automatic heavy equipment shut offs would be helped with even a 10 second warning.
JustUs January 29, 2013 at 05:02 PM
People would not even have a 60 second warning. Maybe 5 seconds at most if the epicenter is 100 miles away. Those within 50 miles of the epicenter would have virtually no warning and they are the ones who would need it most. This is just another gimmick legislative item that is being used to reward the legislator's sugar daddies. I can't understand how they fool you people over and over again. When are you going to finally figure this all out? All of you think you can outsmart Mother Nature. You can't. Stop trying and wasting your taxdollars in the process.
Yeparoo January 29, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Proximity to the epicenter will determine your experience. If you are at the epicenter of and EQ, that means someone else isn't and could be saved by an early warning system. It could be the largest beneficiaries of an early EQ warning system are utilities, transportation and heavy industry that are wired for automatic shut offs. Based on the model below, It looks like 100 miles from the epicenter of a quake could allow for as much as a 30 second warning: http://www.earthquakecountry.info/video/SanAndreasEarthquake.mov
Chip Long January 29, 2013 at 06:40 PM
When are people going to wake up . . . both the State and Federal government is broke and yet our politicians continue to spend money like it is water. This is just another example of the spending that is out of control.
ms.sc. January 29, 2013 at 07:30 PM
I agree with you 1MantisMon. California already has many earthquake signal alerts in place along with well paid scientists.
JustUs January 29, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Yeparoo - that's ridiculous. We have little shakers - 1.5 to 4.0 magnitude all the time. This system won't be able to differentiate between a 3.0 and a 7.0 in the beginning seconds. So will utilities, transportation and heavy industry all routinely shut down based upon false alarms? Certainly. That is only ONE reason it won't work. By the time the system recognized that it was a large quake it would be IMPOSSIBLE to give someone 100 miles away from the epicenter a 30 second warning. Don't you understand the speed that earthquakes move at? An earthquake travels at a speed of about 18,000 mph in the crust and at about 29,000 mph on the mantle. 30 seconds notice @ a distance of 100 miles??? HAH! Don't make me laugh!!! Please, do some research about earthquakes before making your comments public. You only hurt your own credibility online. I am trying to help you out here.
Nancy January 29, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Justus, let me "help you out here." So you have done more research than the top seismologists and geologists who recommend this program? Other nations like Mexico, Turkey, Romania, and Japan are ahead of us in these alert systems. For you and others like Chip Long, may I offer this adage: Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. $80 million would be a pittance to the potential cost of damage without warning. And then there's the loss of life component, which you can't even put a price tag on. I suggest you look for more information on the viability of this program and look for it somewhere other than Patch. Ha! http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-earthquake-warning-20130129,0,5545398.story
ms.sc. January 29, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Nancy, obviously these "programs" have not been worth their "pennies", especially in the "ring-of-fire"...that is why I am not in support of SONGS. California needs to watch the budget and stop spending money we don't have on "pipe dreams".
Yeparoo January 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM
670,616,629 mph - Speed of light particles. 50% reduction for the speed of electric particles over wire, or 335,308,314.5 mph. Seems to me 335,308,314 mph is faster than 29,000 mph. Assuming a system could be built for ONLY $80 million (7-8 Phil Mickelsons), this is a bargain. I do believe the usual multiplier for all government spending is 400%. So to adjust the liar number to the actual number, the proper figure would be $320 million. So probably still doable.
JustUs January 30, 2013 at 03:37 AM
You're making no sense, Yeparoo. Even with the speed of electrical current though a wire how is it going to differentiate between a 3.0 and a 7.0? Only by delay of time. And at a speed of 29000 mph the quake travels about 100 miles in about 13-15 seconds. So by the time the sensor understands it the big one it's worthless to even notify anyone within a 50 mile radius. And those at 100 miles hardly have time to react with probably 5-10 seconds (considering the time delay) to react. The damage at 150 miles or greater would be minimized by decreased movement of the earth as the distance increases. So it's a big waste of money. I thought you were a fiscal conservative with a good head on your shoulders. Maybe I was wrong.
Homer January 30, 2013 at 04:03 AM
I can sit here on my fine tuned seis-mo butt and warn everyone on the web within an average of 30 seconds. It's not too complicated. Should I apply for half of the money to set up my own network of "net-buddies with finely tuned seis-mo butts" ?? Why not? We're talking about a 40-million dollar savings for a mere thirty second reduction in non-guaranteed performance.
Yeparoo January 30, 2013 at 07:12 AM
10-30 seconds of warning would be huge and the multiplier for savings by stopping trains, shutting down power plants, etc could prevent significant damage and loss of life. This is exactly the type of program the state should be spending taxes on. I would rather see this done in cooperation with other ring of fire states, but CA is big enough to go it alone. I don't see how support for an EQ early warning system that could save many lives and prevent financial loss greater than the amount advertised is considered not financially wise. Sorry Justus, IMO this is a good project at the announced cost. Not anything like the Browndoggle HSR.
JustUs January 30, 2013 at 07:39 AM
"10-30 seconds of warning would be huge and the multiplier for savings by stopping trains, shutting down power plants, etc could prevent significant damage and loss of life." This is like another train to nowhere, Yeparoo. More taxpayer money to fill come contractor clown's pockets. You wouldn't get anything close to 30 seconds warning. IMPOSSIBLE. Somehow you think we can outsmart Mother Nature. Got news for ya. We can't. Mother Nature has more brains in the tip of her pinkie than the entire collective humankind. Plus, you would get routine false alarms and cause panic everywhere, probably costing human lives. Give it up. Some things just aren't meant to be. "Sorry Justus, IMO this is a good project at the announced cost." Just another scam to fill sugar daddy pockets. And there would be a 1000% overrun of costs like there always is in California. Are you a geologist by trade, Yeparoo? Just curious. " but CA is big enough to go it alone." 'but CA is the only State stupid enough to go it alone' There. I fixed it for ya. "I don't see how support for an EQ early warning system that could save many lives and prevent financial loss greater than the amount advertised is considered not financially wise." OMG. Another one of those "if we could only save one child's life it would be all worth it" HAH! IMO it would probably take more human lives that it would save by all the panic it would cause.
ms.sc. January 30, 2013 at 08:12 AM
JustUs, somehow in your "ya betcha" posts, I do agree with you! Someone is expecting to get paid big bucks for this "pipe dream" idea, and it is not fair to the people of California, nor to this Country as a whole. I hope people of California will start to see how some elected and/or non elected "officials" ideas with no scientific foundation are manuplitating their fears.
Yeparoo January 30, 2013 at 07:00 PM
CA would not be the first government to implement an early warning system. They are effective in other countries. An EQ alert system would do nothing to prevent property damage to buildings, but schools could sound an alarm to duck and cover, power plants could be shut down, trains could slow down, hospital operating rooms could interrupt surgeries, elevators could stop at the next floor and their doors open, commercial jets could be warned to abort landings. The general public would also be alerted by text message, but that would probably be less helpful. I do admit CA is in a financial basket case. It could be CA has sunk so low that we cannot do smart projects (IMO)? I will be interesting to watch the debate on this proposed spending idea. You could be right that CA is broke and shouldn't spend money on an EQ alert system. I suppose when CA doesn't have the money to disarm felons and the mentally ill of their firearms (19,000 identified), then we may not see this project at all, even at a bargain basement cost of $80 million.(http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-california-guns-20130130,0,418551.story).


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