California Prototype Quake Warning System Gave Heads Up

March 18, 2013

Scientists say an earthquake warning system that has been under development in California worked during last week’s light but widely felt temblor.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the system gave 35 seconds of notice to seismologists in Pasadena about incoming seismic waves from the magnitude-4.7 quake centered in Riverside County. The small quake shook a wide swath of Southern California, but did not cause serious damage.

The system has been broadcasting alerts to scientists’ computers for several years, but is not available to the public. Researchers want to create a statewide warning system similar to ones that exist in Japan, Mexico and other quake-prone nations.

Proponents say having a few seconds of warning gives enough time for trains to stop, utilities to shut off systems or children to dive under desks.

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