UW researchers test Washington’s first-ever earthquake detection system

Pacific Northwest Seismic Network director John Vidale with the system that will be tested next week.

Pacific Northwest Seismic Network director John Vidale with the earthquake warning system that will be tested.

Earth and Space Sciences’ John Vidale, Paul Bodin, and the University of Washington-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network team, will soon begin testing the region’s first early warning system for incoming earthquakes. Originally developed for use in California, the system will create an automated alert giving people anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute’s warning before an earthquake’s S waves begin to shake the ground. Testing on a trial group, which includes local economic powerhouses like Boeing and Microsoft, will occur throughout the next year, and with adequate funding alerts could be available to the public within a few years. Vidale, Bodin, and the PNSN’s team of scientists working on this project hope to eventually provide simple, fast, and uniform earthquake early warning coverage to the entire region in order to protect people and infrastructure. Long term, the technology could extend into other earthquake-prone areas like Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, and Alaska.

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