UC Berkeley Scientists Developing Early Warning Earthquake System

An early-warning earthquake system is slowly being rolled out across the Bay Area thanks to scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The hope is to get people enough time to duck and cover before they feel the quake, but at a community question and answer session Thursday, the talk was also about preparing for the disaster after the shaking stops.

Doctor Jennifer Strauss explained how the early-warning system works. Scientists measure the time between two waves to confirm that a quake has happened, and that’s how they’re able to send a warning.

The system is already being used by BART to slow down trains if there’s a large quake detected.

Some in the audience were pessimistic about their readiness but Strauss said the good news is people are learning to be ready, and lots of improvements have been made the infrastructure and the planning over the last few decades.

"Utilities and other life lines have really worked hard since Loma Prieta to try to harden their infrastructure so that bad things don’t happen, so that’s very good," she said.

Strauss said there’s been progress but a lot more needs to be done.

"It’s going to get bad if we don’t do nothing and all of our buildings are red tagged and yellow tagged," she said.

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