SAN DIEGO — An earthquake warning system is in the works for California thanks to $5 million in funding from Congress.
“This is will save lives, money and infrastructures when a big one hits,” said Rep. Adam Sciff.
Scientists have long planned to make such a system available to some schools, fire stations, and more private businesses in 2015, but their effort hinged on Congress providing $5 million, the Los Angeles Times reported. The system would give as much as a minute’s warning before shaking is felt in metropolitan areas, a margin that experts say would increase survival.
Officials testing the system in San Francisco got eight seconds warning during the 6.0 earthquake near Napa in August.
“There is a real chance we can revert a lot of the destruction by having extra time,” said SDSU geology professor, Thomas Rockwell.
Rockwell believes the extra time will come in handy for if and when faults in our own backyard begin to shake, in particular the San Jacinto fault on the western stand of the San Andreas.
The San Jacinto is 130-miles long – from Imperial County through Borrego Springs into Riverside and San Bernardino Valley.
It hasn’t shaken in 214 years according to Rockwell but it is capable of producing 7.6 magnitude quakes and is sparking concern among seismologists.
“Say the November 22nd 1800 earthquake … that’s the last large earthquake that ruptured the south section of the San Jacinto fault … we’re coming into the window where that could occur again,” said Rockwell.
Rockwell has been studying the San Jacinto for several years; he is optimistic the warning system will help save lives in the event of a big quake.
“We should always in San Diego be prepared for a large earthquake and our worst case scenario would be a quake on the Rosecrans fault which bisects the city,” said Rockwell.
To the consternation of some, California is well behind Japan as well as Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and other countries in using early-warning technology.