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California Launches Earthquake Early Warning System

By Reuters

October 18, 2019

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California has launched the first statewide earthquake warning system in the U.S., aimed at detecting seismic waves and notifying residents via a mobile phone app up to 20 seconds before tremors hit.

The California Earthquake Early Warning System taps hundreds of sensors to detect P-waves, which travel through the interior of the Earth, and arrive prior to surface waves and at a higher frequency during a temblor.

University of California, Berkeley seismologists and engineers designed the MyShake phone app, which will initially warn users of local quakes with a magnitude of 4.5 or higher. Alerts are based on the ShakeAlert computer program operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, which analyzes data from seismic networks across the state, estimates the preliminary magnitudes of tremors, and calculates which areas will feel them.

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