What if you had just a few seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake, like getting under a table or a desk? What if you were a train engineer who could begin to slow down?
With an earthquake early warning system, giant valves could now close automatically in time to prevent precious water from draining out of broken pipes at water utilities, and the list goes on.
The first stages of that system have arrived. What’s called ShakeAlert is now in place in Washington, Oregon, and California. Now scientists at the University of Washington, along with the U.S. Geological Survey, are in the process of doubling the number of digital seismometers to make the system more robust and work faster, with better accuracy.