Quake warning system begins to take shape

ShakeAlert's architects say it could be completed in three years with increased funding

An official points to strong earthquake markings on Seismogram recordings at the Seismology Center in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
An official points to strong earthquake markings on Seismogram recordings at the Seismology Center in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – University of Washington researchers are testing an earthquake alert system as the Pacific Northwest prepares for the day when a 600-mile-long fault line looming off the coast unleashes a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

The fault line hasn’t produced a major quake since 1700, but seismologists say one could happen in our lifetimes.

Fears of such a quake have fueled development of a computer alert system that officials hope will save lives and protect infrastructure by giving a precious heads-up to get ready.

The ShakeAlert system uses seismic sensors to detect harmless, fast-moving signals that precede stronger waves that produce violent shaking during a quake. The system can calculate the magnitude of the quake before the shaking starts.

ShakeAlert’s architects say it could be completed in three years with increased funding.

 

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