Caltech and Seismic Study Partners Awarded $12.5 Million Grant to Advance ShakeAlert System

Published : Monday, August 19, 2019 | 4:35 PM

ShakeAlert System Flow Chart photo courtesy USGS

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena and six other universities, plus a university-governed nonprofit, will receive a total award of more than $12.5 million from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to support the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system for the U.S. West Coast.

A United States Geological Service said Aug. 19, the awards are for the first year of a new set of two-year cooperative agreements with Caltech, Central Washington University, the University of California, Berkeley; University of Oregon, University of Washington, University of Nevada, Reno; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich), and UNAVCO, Inc.

The new agreements include work to incorporate real-time GPS observations into ShakeAlert., the announcement said.

Caltech became a part of the multi-institutional collaboration to create a U.S.-based earthquake early warning system in 2007. In 2015, Caltech, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon received approximately $4 million in awards for the expansion and improvement of the ShakeAlert system.

Caltech’s role in ShakeAlert focuses on research and development of the system so that future versions will be faster and more reliable. The institute’s Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory collects data from hundreds of seismic stations throughout California.

Last year, at the Caltech Seismological Laboratory, scientists and government officials declared ShakeAlert “open for business.”

The USGS and its university and nonprofit partners will also continue to develop scientific algorithms for detecting potentially damaging earthquakes, more thoroughly testing the warning system, and improving system performance.

The work will also include upgrading sensor networks and installing new seismic stations to improve the speed and reliability of the warnings.

The ShakeAlert partners, collaborating with state and local partners, will continue user-training and education efforts and add more ShakeAlert pilot users.

About 60 organizations are current test users of ShakeAlert. These include utilities, transportation, emergency management, education, state and city governments and industry sectors. Several of these are engaged in pilot projects to demonstrate the practical use of the earthquake early warning system in various applications.

The USGS also announced it has purchased about $1.5 million in new sensor equipment to expand and improve the ShakeAlert system. These efforts are the result of $21.1 million in funding to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program for ShakeAlert, which Congress approved earlier this year.

As an earthquake early warning system, ShakeAlert is designed to give people a precious few seconds to stop what they are doing and take protective actions before severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive.

The system is a product of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), a federation of national and regional earthquake monitoring networks throughout the country, including networks in southern California, northern California and the Pacific Northwest.






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