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British Columbia's earthquake early warning system is scheduled to launch, spring 2024 | Radio NL

British Columbia's earthquake early warning system is scheduled to launch, spring 2024 |  Radio NL


When an earthquake occurs, the P wave (generally weak but fast) travels quickly from the epicenter, triggering the EEW system which then alerts people and systems before the S wave (slow but strong) arrives. (Photo: Government of Canada)

An earthquake early warning system is scheduled to launch in British Columbia and across Canada in the spring.

It's an online system that will provide an alert — seconds, even a few minutes — after an earthquake is detected and a strong one is imminent.

Seismologist John Cassidy says it's about giving people time to take preventative action.

“If you are 10, 20, 30 kilometers or even farther away from the earthquake, you will have some warning time that is given, so you can get under the table and stay away from windows or objects that might fall.”

It's also an opportunity for automated systems to implement safety measures, Cassidy says.

“To open garage doors in fire halls, stop elevators so people can get off before they hit the powerful vibrations and bells that might go off in hospitals so surgeons can set up their scalpels.”

He says EEW is being rolled out for the first time in B.C.

“But it will also cover all the parts of Canada that have the greatest seismic risk, through the St. Lawrence Seismic Zone, the Ottawa Valley, Yukon and Haida Gwaii, so it will eventually cover all of Canada.”

Cassidy says the warning system is the same that has been used in California, Oregon, Washington and Japan for earthquake warnings for several years.

The province says there are approximately 5,000 earthquakes across Canada each year, and about 3,000 of them occur in British Columbia.

More details about EEW can be found here.




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