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Early warning system gave notice of Westwood quake

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/17/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Quake may mean an end to lull in newsworthy seismic activity for LA.

An early warning system for earthquakes worked as advertised in southern California this morning demonstrating that the system can provide valuable time for people to take cover before shaking starts.

The Westwood quake, felt at 6:25 this morning, was detected by an early warning system in Pasadena.

The Westwood quake, felt at 6:25 this morning, was detected by an early warning system in Pasadena.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/17/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: earthquake, westwood, early warning, shaking, usgs, geologic, california


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A 4.4 magnitude quake that struck at the base of the Santa Monica mountains, was widely felt waking many people from their sleep at 6:25 a.m. local time. The western portion of the LA Basin and the San Fernando Valley firmly rocked by the quake, which lasted only a few seconds and was reported by many to be felt as a powerful jolt.

Los Angeles hasn't been hit by any significant earthquakes for several years, so much so that local seismologists have referred to the quiet period as an "earthquake drought." Typically, Los Angeles is rocked by a significant earthquake every few years, but only rarely are they large enough to do any real damage.

California is earthquake country and the state has grappled with the reality for decades. Strict building codes apply to all new construction and all old construction has been reinforced at great expense or demolished. It is believed that most structures, particularly in Los Angeles and San Francisco, can easily withstand major quakes without danger of collapse.

Nonetheless, the state has also started deployment of an earthquake early warning system that developers say can provide critical seconds to duck and cover before the quake is actually felt.

Waves that cause shaking travel just over 3 miles per second on average which means a location a hundred miles distant would start shaking about 30 seconds after the start of a quake. In the event of a major quake, those valuable seconds could mean the difference between safety and injury for many people.

Indeed, for the U.S. Geological Survey offices in Pasadena, the system gave several seconds of early warning. This allowed concerned staff to take cover while others in their excitement rushed to watch monitoring equipment.

A law was passed in 2013 to deploy an earthquake early warning system across the state, but further study and more funding are also required to complete the deployment and ensure every danger zone is adequately covered. For now, few places are getting alerts.

In the years to come, the system may be deployed in schools as well as densely populated urban areas, allowing people to take cover before the shaking starts.

As for today's quake, nerves were frayed, but only momentarily. Most Los Angelinos are accustomed to the occasional bump and roll, and so far the aftershocks have been mild.

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