Senator Alex Padilla Introduces Legislation to Create Earthquake Early Warning System in California

January 28, 2013
Senator Padilla at Earthquake Early Warning System press conference
Senator Padilla at Earthquake Early Warning System press conference 2
Senator Padilla at Earthquake Early Warning System press conference 3

Los Angeles – “Three weeks ago, the California Institute of Technology and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology published a study concluding for the first time that a statewide California earthquake involving both the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas may be possible. This morning I introduced legislation to create a statewide earthquake early warning system,” said Senator Padilla at a press conference held in the Seismological Laboratory at California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Padilla, joined by a panel of seismologists representing Caltech, UC Berkeley and the U.S. Geological Survey said, “California is going to have an earthquake early warning system, the question is whether we have one before or after the next big quake.” 

Building upon the California Integrated Seismic Network, seismologists envision a system that would process data from an array of sensors throughout the state. The system would effectively detect the strength and the progression of earthquakes, alert the public within seconds and provide up to 60 seconds advanced warning before potentially damaging ground shaking is felt.

“A fully developed earthquake early warning system would provide Californians critical seconds to take cover, assist loved ones, pull to the side of the road, or exit a building.  It could allow time to stop a train or power down other critical infrastructure,” Padilla said.  “The earthquake warning would not only alert the public, it would also speed the response of police and fire personnel by quickly identifying areas hardest hit by the quake,” Padilla added.

"For decades Caltech and UC Berkeley have worked with the U.S. Geological Survey on science that can help the public in the event of a major quake.  Earthquake Early Warning is a ripe area for development of a system that can provide a few seconds to tens of seconds of advance notice for many people in the event of a major earthquake.  We firmly believe Earthquake Early Warning would save lives and help California in many ways if it is rolled out as a fully operational system," said Dr. Michael Gurnis, Professor of Geophysics and Director of the Caltech Seismological Laboratory.

"The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation supports the earthquake early-warning system because when it comes to earthquakes, one minute matters for getting more people to safety and activating emergency systems," said Cyndi Atherton, a Science Program director at the Moore Foundation.

The initial cost estimate for the system is $80 million.  Padilla said that with the magnitude 6.7 Northridge Earthquake claiming 60 lives and causing at least $13 billion in damage, the system is an intelligent investment.  “About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and over 80% of the world’s strongest quakes occur along the Pacific Ring of Fire.  The Ring of Fire includes the very active San Andreas Fault zone here in California.  We all know a big quake will hit again in the future.  We should be smart and use our advanced science and technology to detect seismic activity and alert people in advance of an approaching quake,” Padilla said. 

Indeed, the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast released in 2008 predicted a 99.7 % likelihood of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in California in the next 30 years and a 94% chance of a magnitude 7.0.  

Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Turkey, Romania, Italy and China either have or are working on earthquake early warning systems.

To read the study on a statewide earthquake go to: http://www.caltech.edu/content/faulty-behavior

 

Press Advisory
January 28, 2013 

Contact: John D. Mann
(916) 812-5569

Senator Alex Padilla to Announce Legislation to Create Earthquake Early Warning System in California

Los Angeles – Three weeks ago, the California Institute of Technology and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology published a study concluding for the first time that a statewide California earthquake involving both the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas may be possible.  http://www.caltech.edu/content/faulty-behavior

Today at 10:00 a.m., State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) will formally announce legislation that would create a comprehensive, statewide earthquake early warning system in California. A panel of experts representing the U.S. Geological Survey, Caltech, UC Berkeley, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will be available to respond to questions.

What:  Announcement of Legislation to Create a California Earthquake Early Warning System

When:  Monday, January 28, 2013, 10:00 a.m.

 

Where: California Institute of Technology Seismological Laboratory

The seismological laboratory is located in the South Mudd Building on the northeast corner of East California Boulevard and South Wilson Avenue in Pasadena, California

 http://cit.s3.amazonaws.com/map/Caltech-map-20110428CO.pdf

Who:   California State Senator Alex Padilla

Dr. Lucy Jones, Senior Advisor for Risk Reduction, U.S. Geological Survey

Mr. Douglas Given, Early Warning Project Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey

Dr. Michael Gurnis, Professor of Geophysics and Director of the Seismological Laboratory, Caltech 

Dr. Thomas Heaton, Professor of Engineering Seismology, Caltech

Dr. Egill Hauksson, Senior Research Associate in Geophysics, Caltech

Dr. Peggy Hellweg, Operations Manager, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, UC Berkeley & Commissioner, California Seismic Safety Commission

Dr. Cyndi Atherton, Program Director for Science, Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation

To Listen Live to Press Conference: Dial 866-528-2256 after 9:50 a.m. and enter code 8481818