While California experiences earthquakes regularly, many of the earthquakes that happen we will never feel. On August 29th, there was a magnitude 4.4 earthquake and within seconds of impact there were reports on Twitter that shaking was felt all over the Los Angeles area. Twitter is helpful to confirm if what you felt was really an earthquake, but what if you want to know the earthquake was coming before the shaking started?
The USGS, along with UC Berkeley, Caltech and the Southern California Earthquake Center, have developed Earthquake Early Warning technology that can detect the P-waves of an earthquake to provide advance warning before the more damaging S-waves hit. This technology, called ShakeAlert, proved successful during Wednesday’s earthquake. Seismologist Lucy Jones reported to Caltech that the system successfully provided an advanced warning before the shaking was felt where she was in Pasadena. The amount of warning time depends on how close the person receiving the alert is to the earthquake’s epicenter and how the magnitude of the earthquake is. In Lucy’s case, she was approximately 22 miles west from the epicenter giving her 3 seconds of advanced warning.
The USGS has partnered with a select few private sector organizations to deliver these warnings. Leveraging over 1000 USGS sensors, SkyAlert collaborates closely with the USGS to bring earthquake early warnings to businesses and organizations* in the West Coast. SkyAlert technology receives real-time data about incoming earthquakes and calculates the localized expected shaking intensity and time until impact.
*per the agreement with USGS, SkyAlert’s broadcast and mobile app notification service is currently only available for organizations and businesses entities. Please email email@example.com if you’d like to install an Earthquake Early Warning system in your organization, or if you’d like to join the waiting list for access to the consumer app.