Advance Earthquake Warning System Moves Forward

BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 17 (UPI) — Researchers in California are set to conduct a final series of tests on a system they say could provide advance notice of earthquakes.

University of California-Berkeley seismology Professor Richard Allen told the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News that, after initial concerns about feasibility, research now focuses on how to use such a system.

“At the beginning of this project, it’s fair to say that most people didn’t think early warning was technically feasible in California,” Allen said. “The question now is to what extent it could be useful. How would you take advantage of those few seconds of warning?”

The United States trails Japan, Turkey and Mexico in developing earthquake warning technology, the newspaper said Saturday. The system being developed by researchers at three California universities and the U.S. Geological Survey would use underground sensors and geophysical observation stations to provide a warning of an impending quake, the report said.

A warning system in California could cost $50 million to $80 million to construct, and then cost millions annually to operate and maintain. Mike Price, chief technology officer of the privately held Seismic Warning System, said the state could not fund a system because it is “dead broke.”

“What they’re building is a massive, government-centric research project,” Price said. “At the moment they’re nowhere.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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