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Checking in on development, implementation of ShakeAlert, California’s early earthquake warning system




Margaret Vinci, manager of the Seismological Laboratory at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) points to a shake alert user display on a laptop screen, set for a limited release on June 1, 2017 at the Caltech Seismological Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Margaret Vinci, manager of the Seismological Laboratory at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) points to a shake alert user display on a laptop screen, set for a limited release on June 1, 2017 at the Caltech Seismological Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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After years of delays due to lack of funding California’s much-anticipated early earthquake warning system “ShakeAlert” was unveiled on Monday.

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), one of the first to make use of the ShakeAlert prototype, hosted the launch of the system on Monday by performing a demonstration of the system, complete with a train ride to show how, in the event of a quake, ShakeAlert would be able to slow trains to a stop, halt moving elevators, close gas valves and even stop amusement park rides. A network of sensors pick up seismic waves from the ground and then focus in on the slower-moving ones that can cause structural damage that injure and kill, sending out warnings from seconds before a quake to a minute in advance.

Agencies in Washington and Oregon are also implementing the system into their own quake infrastructure, and California emergency management officials say it will continue to expand and be implemented across the state in months to come.  

Guests:

Robert-Michael de Groot, staff scientists and coordinator for communication, education and outreach for the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning Program at the U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Science Center in Pasadena

Ryan Arba, branch chief of the Earthquake, Tsunami & Volcano Programs at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES); he tweets @RyanArba