Earthquake Forecasting System Makes Significant Advances in the U.S. and West One Minute Ahead

The U.S. earthquake warning system cell phone early warning made significant progress. The U.S. Earthquake Early Warning System 4 morning to Washington State cell phone users test earthquake early warning alerts successfully, meaning the entire U.S. West can receive cell phone alerts seconds or even a minute before an earthquake occurs, scrambling to escape in advance.

The U.S. Earthquake Warning Center in Pasadena, which launched the earthquake early warning system alerts for cell phone users in the Los Angeles area in 2018, is expanding to other areas in California in 2019. In March, cell phone users in Oregon began gaining access to the earthquake early warning system alerts. the successful test in Washington State on the 4th means that from now on, all cell phone users anywhere from the Canadian border to the Mexican border will have access to earthquake early warnings, meaning that cell phone holders will be able to get alerts seconds or even a minute in advance when earthquakes occur in these areas.

Robert de Groot, a U.S. Geological Survey earthquake scientist and communications coordinator for the ShakeAlert warning system, explained that the earthquake early warning system works because the current U.S. communications system is faster than the speed of the shock waves moving through the ground. Residents are alerted in advance, even if only by a few seconds, and the level of life safety and property damage is greatly reduced. For example, people can use the short time to leave the danger area and protect themselves, hospitals have enough time to warn doctors to cancel scalpels from patients, high-rise elevators can also take emergency measures to suspend operation, and trains can slow down in time to reduce the risk of avoidance.

Earthquake scientists say that based on current levels of earthquake forecasting, residents of the Pacific Northwest would be warned 80 seconds in advance if a magnitude 9 earthquake were to occur in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a massive fault zone hundreds of miles off the West Coast that extends into the Pacific Ocean. The Cascadia Subduction Zone ruptured during the Jan. 26, 1700, earthquake, sending a catastrophic tsunami not only to the Pacific Northwest, but also to thousands of miles of Japan.