News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.

USGS plans to launch earthquake early alert system in 2018

How the U.S.G.S. alert system ShakeAlert will make use of sensors to detect earthquakes.
How the U.S.G.S. alert system ShakeAlert will make use of sensors to detect earthquakes.

Listen to story

Download this story 7MB

Earthquakes are a constant for people who live in California. And on Thursday morning, there were two. One was a 4.0 magnitude roughly ten miles east of Anaheim. The other was a 5.8 magnitude temblor off the coast of Northern California.

Both earthquakes occurred only hours before the U.S. Geological Survey's planned public lecture Thursday afternoon.

"At the public lecture today we'll be talking about the development of an earthquake early warning system called ShakeAlert,'" said Elizabeth Cochran, seismologist for the U.S.G.S.

ShakeAlert will be used for the West coast of the country. U.S.G.S. said it could offer valuable time ahead of shaking that could save lives and property.

"When an earthquake starts, we have lots of instruments around the state of California, as well as in the Pacific Northwest," Cochran said. "We use these to really quickly detect when an earthquake begins and then we send an alert out to people who might experience shaking from that earthquake."

The system will not use the standard alert emergency alert system that appears as a notification on phones at first. It will use radio and television alerts until that function is ready.

While there are concerns with the amount of seismic activity that's occurred around the Pacific Rim in recent months, Cochran is not concerned. 

"We've seen this type of clustering happen every so often, every few years. And it's normal activity that just happens to be occurring around the same time," she said.

To see the U.S.G.S. public lecture on ShakeAlert, click here when the event starts at noon.