Scientists, State Officials to Provide Briefing on Earthquake Early Warning Capabilities, Plans for Implementation of California, Federal Systems

Redlands, California - Briefing and workshop for Southern California government officials, emergency managers, utilities and other private- and public­-sector partners on the early warning system proposed for California.  Officials from California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), as well as experts on earthquake early warning systems, will provide stakeholders with details about existing earthquake warning capabilities and applications.

The workshop also will include details on plans to implement the system in California and the state's vision regarding the public-partnership component of the project and implementation strategy.  Also on the agenda is a facilitated discussion of how to build on existing capabilities, including a strategy for outreach program goals; engagement of the private sector, utilities and transportation agencies; funding support; and other issues.

1:00-3:30 p.m. - Monday, May 19, 2014

San Bernardino County Museum - 2024 Orange Tree Lane Redlands, CA. 94590        

 Attendees:

  • Mark Ghilarducci, Director, Cal OES
  • Dr. Suzette Kimball, Acting Director, USGS
  • Dr. John Parrish, State Geologist, California Geologic Survey
  • Dr. Thomas Heaton, Caltech
  • Doug Given, Earthquake Early Warning Coordinator, USGS
  • Blake Geotz, Retired Chief, Palm Springs Fire Department
  • Scott Nebenzahl, Government Liaison, Seismic Warning Systems, Inc
  • Mike Antonucci, Manager, San Bernardino County OES 
  • Mark Johnson, Chief, Earthquake & Tsunami Program, Cal OES

Scientists can't predict earthquakes, but rapid warnings to government officials, first responders and the public about a potentially damaging earthquake could reduce deaths, injuries and property losses.  Timely warnings that a major earthquake is occurring based an analysis of earthquake P-waves by a network of digital seismometers could provide a few seconds to up to two minutes depending on the size of the earthquake and your distance from the epicenter. That's enough time for students, commuters, workers and others to take protective actions.

Last September, Governor Brown signed legislation directing Cal OES to work with the California Geologic Survey, the California Seismic Safety Commission, the United States Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, UC Berkeley, Caltech and other stakeholders, including the private sector, to implement a comprehensive statewide earthquake early warning system.

As part of that effort to implement the system, Cal OES is holding two briefings/workshops for stakeholders.   On May 7, about 75 representatives of northern and central California government agencies, universities and the private sector attended a briefing at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo.

The briefing will be an opportunity to discuss the recently released scientific publication outlining the technical implementation a public earthquake early warning system called ShakeAlert, for the West Coast of the United States, which includes California, Oregon and Washington. This system leverages existing stations and infrastructure of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) regional networks to achieve this new capability. While significant progress has been made in developing the ShakeAlert early warning system, improved robustness of each component of the system and additional testing and certification are needed for the system to be reliable enough to issue public alerts. Capital investment costs for a West Coast earthquake early warning system are projected to be $38.3 million, with additional annual maintenance and operations totaling $16.1 million-in addition to current ANSS expenditures for earthquake monitoring.

California's initiative, as discussed in the upcoming workshop, is to enhance the California Integrated Seismic System to address earthquake early warning in our state.  The California Integrated Seismic Network is one region of the ANSS.

Additional information