What if you received an earthquake notification before it was felt in your location? The technology is already in place along the West Coast and is working for major infrastructure systems such as automatic shutdown of water valves and startup of backup generators.
ShakeAlert®, an earthquake early warning system supported by the United States Geological Survey, uses science and technology to quickly detect large earthquakes so that alerts can reach people before the shaking arrives. These seconds of advance warning allow people and systems to take action to protect life and property from damaging vibrations.
In Oregon, ShakeAlert-supported alerts will begin to be delivered to wireless devices such as cell phones via the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA), mobile apps, and other technologies beginning at 10am on March 11th. No specific action is required for WEA Alerts and for Android mobiles. The mobile app, QuakeAlertUSA, is currently available in Oregon.
March 11th coincides with the tenth anniversary of the M 9.1 Great Tohoku earthquake in Japan, which killed thousands and devastated cities. The Tohoku tsunami inundated coastal communities in Oregon, causing millions of dollars in damage. Like Japan, a subduction zone located off the coast of Oregon is capable of generating M 9.0 earthquakes.
“This amazing technology could save seconds or tens of seconds before an earthquake, not only ameliorating lost lives by giving people a chance to seek shelter, but also helping to drive a more efficient response,” said Andrew Phelps, director of the center. Oregon Office of Emergency Management. “The ability of first responders to take preventive action for themselves and their equipment means more resources to help Oregonians once the shaking stops.”
According to Robert de Groot, USGS ShakeAlert Coordinator for Communications, Education, Outreach, and Technical Engagement, ShakeAlert is a seismic sensor infrastructure within a regional network that is part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) and the California Network Integrated seismicity (CISN). A network of seismic sensors across California, Oregon and Washington are constantly measuring Earth’s motion. They send this ground motion data to the ShakeAlert processing center operated by the USGS in Seattle; Pasadena, California; Or Menlo Park, California.
“When the sensor detects vibration, fast-acting algorithms and a sophisticated grid will likely give you seconds of warning before the seismic wave hits your location,” said Robert.
The algorithms take just a few seconds to perform the calculations and issue a ShakeAlert message containing information about the estimated magnitude and area of earthquake shake. The message is provided to ShakeAlert distribution partners such as facilities, hospitals, transportation systems, schools, emergency management agencies etc., producing and delivering alerts, thus enabling people to take preventive actions, such as fall / cover / wait. In addition, ShakeAlert protects critical people and infrastructure by triggering automated actions such as closing water valves, starting support generators and making public announcements. For a ShakeAlert message to be issued by the USGS, it takes at least four seismic sensors to detect the same ground motion.
When you receive an alert, via a mobile device or another communications channel, drop it and cover it and hold it.
Drop in place, on your hands and knees – this position protects you from falling and allows you to stay low and crawl for cover if you are close If there is no shelter nearby, crawl by an interior wall (away from windows.
o Cover your head and neck with one arm and one hand; If there is a sturdy table or desk nearby, crawl under it and grab one hand. If there is no table or desk near you, maintain a crawl position to protect your vital organs and be prepared to move if needed.
Wait for the shaking to stop.
Oregon is one of the most earthquake-prone areas in the continental United States. Over the years, Oregon has been hit by a series of earthquakes, large and small.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a 600-mile long fissure that stretches from northern California to British Columbia and is located about 70-100 miles off the coast of the Pacific Coast. Oregon has the potential for an M 9.0+ earthquake due to the Cascadia subduction zone and the resulting 100-foot tsunami that will affect the coastal region. There have been 41 earthquakes in the past 10,000 years along this rift, and they haven’t happened in 190 years, or nearly 1,200 years. The last M-9.0 earthquake (estimated) to occur in this fault was on January 26, 1700.
Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning, at any time of the year. Any and all preventive or warning resources can help mitigate loss of life, severe injury, and devastating damage to infrastructure.
“The past 12 months have been extraordinary, especially for us here in Oregon,” said Phelps. “One of the biggest results learned from our experiences with catastrophic floods, global pandemic control, deadly and destructive historic wildfires, and the latest severe winter storm is that there are things we can do as individuals, families and communities to reduce our risks and reduce the impact of these disasters. Avoid flood water, wear The mask, responding to warnings to evacuate, creating a space that can be defended and preparing for the worst, makes us less vulnerable. So is the earthquake early warning. ”
The ShakeAlert system was developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and a coalition of West Coast universities and state partners, including the University of Oregon, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.
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