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Knowing what’s coming: the future with an earthquake early warning system in California

by AirTalk®

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Third grade students at William L. Cobb Elementary School take cover under desks as they participate in the "Great California ShakeOut" earthquake drill on October 20, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In case of an earthquake we know the the drill: Drop.Cover.Hold On. But that’s only once we feel the earth start to tremble. What if we had a warning system that allows us to be ready to respond and find a safe place to hold on? California will be the first state to have an earthquake early warning system thanks to a bill signed by Governor Brown in late September.

The bill directs the state’s Office of Emergency Services to identify sources of funding by 2016. The  statewide system would cost $80 million to build.  Scientists have been running successful test versions of the system for two years.

So how would the early warning system inform residents there is an earthquake? How much of the California system is based on earthquake early warning systems we see in other countries?  


Elizabeth Cochran, Geophysicist at the US Geological Survey, one of the prime scientists working on the Early Warning System algorithms and implementations

James Dolan, Professor of Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences USC

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