“Duck and cover!” If you grew up in California you probably remember this lesson from the earthquake drills that were practiced at school. Throughout history people have had no option but to be reactive in the event of an earthquake as the science of predicting seismic activity has remained elusive. With the development of the MyShake App by University of California Berkeley Seismology Lab the reactive response may slowly be shifting to a slightly more proactive one.
Although the ability to predict earthquakes remains unfounded the technology of the MyShake App has improved the public’s ability to anticipate an earthquake that may affect their community with early warning alerts. The alert does not come before the earthquake but in some instances the alert may reach the public before they feel the shaking caused by the rupturing fault giving them enough time to get to safety.
When an earthquake caused by rupturing fault lines occurs there are two types of “waves” that are sent out by the ground movement. “The fast-moving P-wave is the first to arrive, but the damage is cause by the slower S-waves and surface waves.” Sensors detect the P-wave and transmit the data to an earthquake alert center where the location and size of the quake is determined. That information is relayed to the public via the alert center and is updated as more information becomes available.
“Earthquake Warning California is the country’s first publicly available, statewide warning system. Managed by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Earthquake Warning California uses ground motion sensors from across the state to detect earthquakes…and can notify Californians to drop, cover, and hold on,” in advance of the shaking.
Visit www.earthquake.ca.gov to learn more.