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  • richardmitnick 4:08 pm on February 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Fluid Pressure Changes Grease Cascadia’s Slow Aseismic Earthquakes", , , , Earthquakes, ,   

    From Eos: “Fluid Pressure Changes Grease Cascadia’s Slow Aseismic Earthquakes” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    2.18.20
    Mary Caperton Morton

    Twenty-five years’ worth of data allows scientists to suss out subtle signals deep in subduction zones.

    Cascadia subduction zone

    Cascadia plate zones

    1
    The study region followed the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, one of the source regions for slow earthquakes along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Credit: NASA

    Not all earthquakes make waves. During slow “aseismic” earthquakes, tectonic plates deep in subduction zones can slide past one another for days or even months without producing seismic waves. Why some subduction zones produce devastating earthquakes and tsunamis while others move benignly remains a mystery. Now a new study is shedding light on the behavior of fluids in faults before and after slow-slip events in the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

    Aseismic earthquakes, also known as episodic tremor and slip, were discovered about 20 years ago in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where oceanic plates are descending beneath the North American plate at a rate of about 40 millimeters per year.

    4

    2
    Vancouver profile

    3
    Oregon profile

    This 1,000-kilometer-long fault has a dangerous reputation but has not produced a major earthquake since the magnitude 9.0 megathrust earthquake and tsunami that struck on 26 January 1700. Scientists think that some of Cascadia’s energy may be dissipated by regular aseismic events that take place deep in the fault zone roughly every 14 months.

    Episodic tremor and slip occur deep in subduction zones, and previous studies have suggested that these slow-slip events may be lubricated by highly pressurized fluids. “There are many sources of fluids in subduction zones. They can be brought down by the descending plate, or they can be generated as the downgoing plate undergoes metamorphic reactions,” said Pascal Audet, a geophysicist at the University of Ottawa in Ontario and an author on the new study, published in Science Advances.

    “At depths of 40 kilometers, the pressure exerted on the rocks is very high, which normally tends to drive fluids out, like squeezing a sponge,” Audet said. “However, these fluids are trapped within the rocks and are virtually incompressible. This means that fluid pressures increase dramatically, weakening the rocks and generating slow earthquakes.”

    This 1,000-kilometer-long fault has a dangerous reputation but has not produced a major earthquake since the magnitude 9.0 megathrust earthquake and tsunami that struck on 26 January 1700. Scientists think that some of Cascadia’s energy may be dissipated by regular aseismic events that take place deep in the fault zone roughly every 14 months.

    Eavesdropping on Slow Quakes

    To study how fluid pressures change during slow earthquakes, lead author Jeremy Gosselin, also at Ottawa, and Audet and colleagues drew upon 25 years of seismic data, spanning 21 slow-earthquake events along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. “By stacking 25 years of data, we were able to detect slight changes in the seismic velocities of the waves as they travel through the layers of oceanic crust associated with slow earthquakes,” Audet said. “We interpret these changes as direct evidence that pore fluid pressures fluctuate during slow earthquakes.”

    Audet and colleagues are still working to identify the cause and effect of the pore fluid pressure changes. “Is the change in fluid pressure a consequence of the slow earthquake? Or is it the opposite: Does an increase in pore fluid pressure somehow trigger the slow earthquake? That’s the next big question we’d like to tackle.”

    “I’m surprised and impressed they were able to isolate these signals,” said Michael Bostock, a geophysicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who was not involved in the new study. “They’re very subtle, but they’re all pointing in the same direction.”

    Theoretical models, as well as other seismic studies on subduction zones in Japan and New Zealand, have offered supporting lines of evidence that pore fluids are redistributed at the boundaries of tectonic plates during slow-slip events, Audet said. “Other studies have offered somewhat indirect evidence for this idea, but our study offers the first direct evidence that fluid pressures do in fact fluctuate during slow earthquakes.”

    The next steps will be to conduct similar seismic studies on other subduction zones, Bostock said. It’s too soon to say whether this fluid behavior is universal to all slow-earthquake zones, but “there may be other factors at play as well, such as temperature and pressure, that create a sweet spot where slow earthquakes are more likely to occur,” he said. The right combination of overlapping factors may help explain why some fault zones record more aseismic events than others.

    Whether these changes in fluid pressures could be used to predict where and when a slow-slip event might occur is unknown, Bostock said, although “slow earthquakes are already more predictable than regular earthquakes.” In Cascadia, for example, they’re known to occur about every 14 months, give or take, for reasons that remain unclear. “Prediction is the holy grail of earthquake science, but it’s fraught with difficulties. Tectonic faults, despite their grand scale, are very sensitive to perturbations in ways we don’t clearly understand yet.”

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:08 am on January 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Earthquakes, , https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/, , San Diego CA, ,   

    From temblor: “Past meets present to help future seismic hazard forecasts in San Diego, CA” 

    1

    From temblor

    January 13, 2020
    Alka Tripathy-Lang
    @DrAlkaTrip

    Urbanization obscures a complex fault zone on which downtown San Diego sits, but decades-old geotechnical studies reveal the faults.

    1
    Urbanization in downtown San Diego. Credit: Tony Webster CC-BY-2.0.

    Fault studies often rely on surface expressions of the ground’s movement. In densely populated urban areas, such as San Diego, this evidence is concealed beneath the cityscape. Now, though, a team has used historical reports to trace faults through downtown San Diego in unprecedented detail, establishing a template that other fault-prone cities can follow to illuminate otherwise hidden hazards.

    Urbanization obscures geology

    Downtown San Diego, popular for its beaches and parks, also hosts the active Rose Canyon Fault Zone, a complex hazard that underlies the city from northwest of La Jolla through downtown, before curving into San Diego Bay.

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    Rose Canyon Fault. https://www.nbcsandiego.com/

    Like the nearby San Andreas, the Rose Canyon Fault is right-lateral, meaning if you were to stand on one side, the opposite side would appear to move to your right. But it plods along at a rate of 1-2 millimeters per year, unlike its speedy neighbor, which indicates a comparatively lower seismic risk.

    “We haven’t had a major rupture” on the Rose Canyon Fault since people have been living atop it, says Jillian Maloney, a geophysicist at San Diego State University and co-author of the new study. So it’s hard to say what kind of damage would be caused, she says. “But, a magnitude-6.9 [of which this fault is capable] is big.”

    Because of urbanization, though, “there haven’t been any comprehensive geologic investigations” of the faults underlying downtown San Diego, Maloney says. This presents a problem because detailed knowledge of active and inactive fault locations, especially in a complicated area where the fault zone bends, is key for successful seismic hazard assessments, she says. The state and federal government maintain fault maps and databases, but their accuracy at the small scale was unknown.

    3
    Map of the Rose Canyon Fault near San Diego, California, USA. USGS

    Faded pages

    A solution to the lack of detailed fault mapping in downtown San Diego resided in decades of old geotechnical reports. These individual studies the size of a city block or smaller are required by the city for any proposed development near active faults, as mapped by the state. Although the data are public once the reports are filed with the city, the reports had not been integrated into a comprehensive or digital resource, and the city does not maintain a list of such reports.

    4
    This bird’s-eye view of downtown San Diego was drawn by Eli Glover in 1876. Prior to the development of downtown San Diego, the Rose Canyon Fault Zone was expressed on the surface and could be seen laterally offsetting topographic features. Credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

    According to Luke Weidman, lead author of this study, which was his master’s project, the first challenge was determining how many reports were even available. Weidman, currently a geologist at geotech firm Geocon, went straight to the source: He asked several of San Diego’s large geotechnical firms for their old publicly available reports in exchange for digitizing them. 


    Weidman scrutinized more than 400 reports he received, dating from 1979 to 2016. Many were uninterpretable because of faded or illegible pages. He assembled the 268 most legible ones into a fault map and database of downtown San Diego. Because reports lacked geographical coordinates, Weidman resorted to property boundaries, building locations, park benches and even trees to locate the reports on a modern map, says Maloney, one of his master’s advisors. Weidman, Maloney and geologist Tom Rockwell also of San Diego State published the findings from their comprehensive interactive digital map last month in Geosphere, along with an analysis of the Rose Canyon Fault Zone in downtown San Diego.

    Below from https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/

    5
    Map of the Rose Canyon fault zone (RCFZ) through San Diego (SD), California (USA) and across the San Diego Bay pull-apart basin. Black box shows the extent of Figure 3. Grid shows population count per grid cell (∼1 km2) (source: LandScan 2017, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UT-Battelle, LLC, https://landscan.ornl.gov/). DF—Descanso fault; SBF—Spanish Bight fault; CF—Coronado fault; SSF—Silver Strand fault; LNFZ—La Nacion fault zone.

    6
    Street map of greater downtown San Diego region showing Alquist-Priolo (AP) zones and faults from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) fault database (USGS-CGS, 2006). Black box shows the extent of Figures 6, 7, and 8. Background imagery: ESRI, HERE (https://www.here.com/strategic-partners/esri), Garmin, OpenStreetMap contributors, and the GIS community.

    Fault findings

    The team found that downtown San Diego’s active faults—defined in their paper as having ruptured within the past 11,500 years—largely track the state’s active fault maps. However, at the scale of the one-block investigations, they found several faults mapped in the wrong location, and cases of no fault where one was expected. Further, the team uncovered three active faults that were not included in the state or federal maps. At the scale at which geotechnical firms, government, owners and developers need to know active fault locations, the use of this type of data is important, says Diane Murbach, an engineering geologist at Murbach Geotech who was not involved in this study.

    7
    This map of downtown San Diego, Calif., shows fault locations as mapped by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and faults as located by the individual geotechnical reports compiled in the new study. Green, light orange, dark orange and red boxes indicate whether individual geotechnical studies found no hazard (green), active faults (red) or potential fault hazards (dark or light orange). Note that the Rose Canyon Fault Zone as mapped by USGS occasionally intersects green boxes, indicating the fault may be mislocated. Where the fault is active, mismatches exist as well. Note the arrow pointing to the ‘USGS-Geotech fault difference,’ highlighting a significant discrepancy in where the fault was previously mapped, versus where it lies. Credit: Weidman et al., [2019].

    Maloney says they also found other faults that haven’t ruptured in the last 11,500 years. This is important, she says, because “you could have a scenario where an active zone ruptures and propagates to [one] that was previously considered inactive.”

    This research “is the first of its kind that I know of that takes all these different reports from different scales with no set format, and fits them into one [usable] database,” says Nicolas Barth, a geologist at the University of California, Riverside who was not part of this study. Many cities have been built on active faults, obscuring hints of past seismicity, he notes. “This is a nice template for others to use,” he says, “not just in California, but globally.”

    References
    Weidman, L., Maloney, J.M., and Rockwell, T.K. (2019). Geotechnical data synthesis for GIS-based analysis of fault zone geometry and hazard in an urban environment. Geosphere, v.15, 1999-2017. doi:10.1130/GES02098.1

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network project

    Earthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States
    1

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

     
  • richardmitnick 8:30 am on January 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Magnitude 6.4 earthquake shakes Puerto Rico", , , , Earthquakes, , , ,   

    From EarthSky: “Magnitude 6.4 earthquake shakes Puerto Rico” 

    1

    From EarthSky

    January 7, 2020
    Deborah Byrd

    USGS reports that the strong earthquake in Puerto Rico this morning was “widely felt.” Strong to very strong shaking occurred across parts of southern Puerto Rico closest to the event, and moderate shaking occurred across the rest of the island.

    1
    The January 7, 2020 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Puerto Rico was centered south of the island. Image via USGS.

    On January 7, 2020, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Puerto Rico at 4:24 a.m. local time (08:24:26 UTC). Significant damage is possible. Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in the Puerto Rico region, beginning in earnest with a magnitude 4.7 earthquake late on December 28 and a magnitude 5.0 event a few hours later.

    The magnitude 6.4 earthquake on January 7 was widely felt. According to ShakeMap, strong to very strong shaking occurred across parts of southern Puerto Rico, closest to the event, and moderate shaking occurred across the rest of the island. The NOAA Tsunami Warning System states no tsunami warning or advisory. The USGS summary page on this earthquake includes an aftershock forecast. Aftershocks will continue near the mainshock.

    Since the magnitude 4.7 event on December 28, over 400 M 2+ earthquakes have occurred in this region, ten of which were magnitude 4+, including the January 7, 2020, 6.4 event and a January 6, 2020 5.8 quake. The preliminary location of the January 7 6.4 earthquake is within about 7.5 miles (12 km) of the January 6, 2020, magnitude 5.8 earthquake. The proximity of these events to Puerto Rico, and their shallow depth, mean that dozens of these events have been felt on land, though with the exception of the latest two earthquakes, the magnitude 6.4 and the magnitude 5.8, none are likely to have caused significant damage.

    The January 6 and 7, 2020, magnitude 5.8 and magnitude 6.4 earthquakes offshore of southwest Puerto Rico occurred as the result of oblique strike slip faulting at shallow depth. At the location of this event, the North America plate converges with the Caribbean plate at a rate of about 20 mm/yr towards the west-southwest. The location and style of faulting for the event is consistent with an intraplate tectonic setting within the upper crust of the Caribbean plate, rather than on the plate boundary between the two plates.

    Tectonics in Puerto Rico are dominated by the convergence between the North America and Caribbean plates, with the island being squeezed between the two.

    The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in 1996, USGS.

    To the north of Puerto Rico, North America subducts beneath the Caribbean plate along the Puerto Rico trench. To the south of the island, and south of today’s earthquake, Caribbean plate upper crust subducts beneath Puerto Rico at the Muertos Trough. The January 6 earthquake, and other recent nearby events, are occurring in the offshore deformation zone bound by the Punta Montalva Fault on land and the Guayanilla Canyon offshore.

    See the full article here .

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan


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    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:22 pm on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Two of the biggest US earthquake faults might be linked", Cascadia fault, Earthquakes, , ,   

    From Nature: “Two of the biggest US earthquake faults might be linked” 

    Nature Mag
    From Nature

    05 December 2019

    1
    The earthquake that devastated San Francisco, California, in 1906 arose from the San Andreas fault — which might be linked to another major fault zone to the north.Credit: Underwood Archives/Getty

    Two of North America’s most fearsome earthquake zones could be linked.

    A controversial study argues that at least eight times in the past 3,000 years, quakes made a one–two punch off the west coast of the United States. A quake hit the Cascadia fault off the coast of northern California, triggering a second quake on the San Andreas fault just to the south. In some cases, the delay between the quakes may have been decades long.

    The study suggests that Cascadia, which scientists think is capable of unleashing a magnitude-9 earthquake at any time, could set off quakes on the northern San Andreas, which runs under the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Several earthquake scientists told Nature that more work is needed to confirm the provocative idea. Researchers have long considered the two faults seismically separate.

    Chris Goldfinger, a geologist and palaeoseismologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, will present the findings on 13 December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. “This is mostly a circumstantial case,” he says. “I don’t have a smoking gun.”

    Tantalizing clues

    Goldfinger and his colleagues first suggested in 2008 that earthquakes in the southern part of Cascadia could trigger quakes on the northern San Andreas [1]. The scientists reported finding layers of churned-up, sandy sediment in sea-floor cores drilled offshore. These layers, called turbidites, usually form when earthquakes shake the sea floor, causing underwater landslides. The researchers reported finding turbidites in Cascadia that seemed to form just before similar turbidites near the San Andreas — perhaps as a Cascadia quake triggered a San Andreas one.

    But it was hard to pinpoint exactly when the turbidites had formed, and Goldfinger knew he needed more evidence. “So that’s what we did,” he says. “We went out and got more cores.”

    Now he has data from seven cores drilled offshore in southern Cascadia and seven cores drilled near the northern San Andreas. The two sites are around 100 kilometres apart — close enough to feel shaking from both faults.

    At eight places in both sets of cores, Goldfinger spotted unusual, two-layered turbidites and realized that they were telling him something new. “Finally the lights went on for me,” he says. The two-layered turbidite “has to be two quakes recorded together”.

    Doubts remain

    As Goldfinger sees it, a Cascadia quake shook the coastline first, causing landslides that show up in both sets of cores as the first layer of turbidites. Then, at some later point, the northern San Andreas also shook, causing the second turbidite layer to form.

    “This story is pretty convincing,” says Jason Patton, an engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey in Sacramento who was a co-author on the 2008 paper. “Cascadia turbidites are covered by San Andreas turbidites, so the Cascadia turbidites were deposited first.”

    Others are reserving judgement. Turbidites show that the ground shook at some point in the past, but it’s difficult to tell exactly when or where those quakes happened, says Joan Gomberg, a seismologist at the US Geological Survey in Seattle, Washington. “All this uncertainty leaves multiple, equally plausible interpretations on the table — most of which are not sensational,” she says. For instance, the turbidites could have been formed by unrelated quakes happening anywhere across the seismically active Pacific Northwest.

    Ross Stein, a seismologist with the earthquake-preparedness firm Temblor in Redwood City, California, wants to see detailed modelling of how stress from the Cascadia fault might be transferred to the northern San Andreas. Researchers generally agree that a large earthquake can sometimes trigger another on a nearby fault, by transferring stress and bringing the second fault closer to failure. But it’s not clear whether that might happen between southern Cascadia and the northern San Andreas, Stein says.

    Next week at the conference, Goldfinger says, “I’m just going to lay out the case.”

    References

    1.

    Goldfinger, C. et al. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 98, 861–889 (2008).

    See the full article here .

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:05 pm on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Computational Solid Mechanics, Earthquakes, ,   

    From École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne: “Gaining insight into the energy balance of earthquakes” 


    From École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

    06.12.19
    Sarah Aubort

    1
    Researchers at EPFL’s Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory and the Weizmann Institute of Science have modeled the onset of slip between two bodies in frictional contact. Their work, a major step forward in the study of frictional rupture, could give us a better understanding of earthquakes – including how far and fast they travel.

    It’s still impossible to determine where and when an earthquake will occur. For example, California has for years been under the threat of the “Big One,” and closer to home, a recent series of small shocks in Valais Canton in early November has raised fears of a major earthquake in the region. Although we can’t predict earthquakes, researchers from EPFL and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have made a step forward in assessing earthquake dynamics through a better understanding of how frictional slip – the relative motion of two bodies in contact under shear stress, such as tectonic plates – begins. Their work has been published in two complementary parts, in Physical Review X and Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

    “We wanted to understand what happens when two bodies in frictional contact suddenly start moving following a gradual increase of the shear stress: the way they start sliding will determine the speed and extent of the movement and, potentially, the severity of an earthquake,” explains Fabian Barras, a doctoral assistant at EPFL’s Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory (LSMS) during this research, and first author of both articles.

    Parallels between slip front and fracture

    The way in which frictional sliding begins between two bodies is not as uniform as it appears. Ultrafast cameras show that slip starts at a specific point and then spreads to the rest of the surface. “This slip front dynamics is very similar to the way a crack propagates within a brittle material,” says Barras. The researchers’ first publication looks at the similarities between frictional rupture and dynamic fracture. “Although the physics of a crack and a slip front is not exactly the same, they both propagate because of a drop in the material’s load-bearing capacity behind the rupture. Using the analogy with dynamic fracture, we studied the origin of the drop of frictional stress observed in the wake of a slip front when the interface starts to move.”

    The researchers then looked at the concentration of stress at the slip front and used theoretical tools from the field of rupture dynamics to study the energy balance. Unlike the situation with a crack, friction continues to dissipate energy after slip has started. During an earthquake, only part of the available energy is used to propagate the rupture front, and the remainder is dissipated by friction, mainly in the form of heat. It is here that the researchers were able to revise previously used models and achieve a better understanding of how much frictional energy is involved in the propagation of the rupture front.

    They used high-performance computers to simulate seismic ruptures based on generic laws of friction, which reproduce the change in frictional force depending on the slip velocity measured between different types of materials. Using dynamic rupture theory and applying it to friction, the researchers were able to assess laboratory experiments and ensure that their predictions were correct. “We were able to validate our predictions across a wide range of experimentally observed rupture velocities. The theoretical models we developed could in the future help us better understand why certain earthquakes in nature are fast and violent, while others propagate slowly and occur over longer periods of time,” adds Barras.

    Deep geothermal energy and induced seismicity

    These advances in fundamental research could one day be applied to more complex models, such as those representing conditions along tectonic faults, especially where fluids are naturally present or injected into the ground. “Today, several promising technologies in the context of the energy transition – like deep geothermal energy – relies on underground fluid injection. It is important to have a better understanding of how those injections affect seismic activity. I hope to use the tools developed during my PhD to study that impact,” says Barras.

    “This work shows how research developed in a civil engineering laboratory can have very interesting implications for earthquake science and lead to cutting-edge publications in areas such as physics,” says Professor Jean-François Molinari, the head of EPFL’s Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory. Fabian Barras has also received a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation to continue his research in a laboratory specializing in fault geology at the University of Oslo.

    2
    Between two solids in frictional contact, slip nucleates at a point on the surface (corresponding to the hypocenter of an earthquake) before spreading to the rest of the interface – just like a crack growing through a brittle material. Using numerical simulation, researchers computed the shear stress profile after the onset of slip and studied the drop of frictional stress observed behind the rupture fronts (blue area in the inset).

    Funding

    This research was made possible through funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant No. 162569, Fabian Barras PhD), as well as from the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation in order to kick off a collaboration between Jean-François Molinari’s lab at EPFL and Eran Bouchbinder’s theoretical physics group at Weizmann. Eran Bouchbinder would also like to thank the Israel Science Foundation for its support (Grant No. 295/16).

    See the full article here .

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    EPFL bloc

    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university. It receives students, professors and staff from over 120 nationalities. With both a Swiss and international calling, it is therefore guided by a constant wish to open up; its missions of teaching, research and partnership impact various circles: universities and engineering schools, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and gymnasiums, industry and economy, political circles and the general public.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:58 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "In Albania a Race to Save Lives on Ground That Keeps Shaking", Earthquakes,   

    From The New York Times: “In Albania, a Race to Save Lives on Ground That Keeps Shaking” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Nov. 28, 2019
    Marc Santora

    With time running out to find survivors under the wreckage of a devastating earthquake, crews keep searching, while thousands of people search for shelter.

    1
    Rescue workers carry a victim found under the rubble left by the earthquake in the town of Durres, in Albania.Credit…Armend Nimani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    With each piece of rubble pulled off the twisted pile of steel and concrete that used to be a four-story home, Luca Martino and his rescue dog, Foglia, were called into action.

    “If there is room for air to come to the outside, the dog can smell it,” Mr. Martino, a rescue worker from Italy, said during a break on Thursday. “If someone is alive, Foglia will bark.”

    On this day, the dog had not barked.

    It was slow, arduous work, repeated at numerous sites in Albania in the aftermath of a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck on Tuesday, leaving at least 47 people dead. And in this Adriatic coast city, where many buildings were leveled and many more were dangerously damaged, the rescuers knew that hopes were fading.

    “There is still time,” Mr. Martino said. Nine members of the Lala family had been in the home when it collapsed. Four had died, one had already been rescued, but four remained beneath the rubble.

    But as precious minutes ticked by, the work came to a sudden halt. The earth was shaking again. The site needed to be cleared. Across the city, people poured out of their homes and businesses — again.

    Officially, this time it was a 5.1-magnitude quake, but in a city where nerves are already frayed and poorly constructed buildings pose a threat even when the earth is not moving, the number hardly mattered. The helpless feeling was the same.

    Later that day, the rescuers working with Mr. Martino pulled one more body out of the wreckage, leaving three still missing beneath the rubble.

    At the city’s main hospital, engineers urgently looked over structural blueprints and rushed visitors out of the administration headquarters, saying it was not safe. When the earth shook around noon, people in the emergency room briefly fled to wait out the shaking.

    Jadranka Mihaljevic, head of engineering at the seismology department of Montenegro’s Institute for Hydrometeorology and Seismology, said the magnitude of the aftershocks was not unexpected.

    “This is a big earthquake, and it’s not surprising, at least not in our region,” she said.

    Driving through the city, which was founded in the seventh century B.C. but where many buildings were hastily thrown up during the country’s wild and often lawless transition to democracy in the 1990s, felt like touring an urban battlefield.

    3
    A building damaged by the earthquake.Credit…Ermal Meta/EPA, via Shutterstock

    The buildings bore deep cracks and homes were flattened. On corner after corner, red-and-white tape marked a place that was deemed unsafe to walk or stay.

    The official death toll climbed as the authorities slowly shifted from rescue operations to recovery efforts. Officials said 680 people had sought medical attention, including 35 who remained hospitalized, and one who was airlifted to Italy.

    Several thousand people whose homes were destroyed were being sheltered in hotels and other locations. But tens of thousands more were living in places that might be structurally unsound.

    “Nothing is safe,” said Haki Kaja, 73, who had been standing a block from where a newer six-story apartment complex had collapsed, killing several people. “What we fear the most are these buildings that were constructed in the 1990s without proper engineers.”

    Beyond immediate survival, the government is focused on finding lodging for people left homeless, but Endri Fuga, a spokesman for Prime Minister Edi Rama, said he understood the concerns of those who worried about the safety of their buildings.

    “This is something we have never dealt with before,” he said, adding that when the last major quake hit in 1979, there was only a fraction of the current development.

    The government has too few people to inspect all the damaged buildings, he said, and is asking for international help.

    “And what we are getting is tremor after tremor, making it even more difficult,” he said.

    In one of Europe’s poorest countries, where corruption and organized crime remain endemic, the earthquake comes at a politically volatile moment.

    Since February, protesters have taken to the streets in often violent demonstrations, calling for the resignation of Mr. Rama’s government. In May, several thousand demonstrators converged on the main government building in Tirana, the capital, and hurled gasoline bombs and fireworks. Police responded with tear gas.

    At the same time, the country’s future has been clouded by the recent decision by the European Union to delay any discussion on the country’s admission to the bloc of nations.

    Mr. Rama has warned that the delay threatened to upend stability in the Balkans, especially if Albanian nationalists see it as a moment to push for the country to form a union with Kosovo, whose 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia is not recognized by Serbia.

    But for the moment, the earthquake seems to have brought unity to a region better known for fragmentation. Serbia and Greece, two countries with historic political differences with Albania, were among the first to send rescue crews, followed quickly by other neighboring nations.

    Those teams, joined with Albanian emergency workers who were going on three days of working with little rest, rescued 48 people trapped in the debris, most of them in the first 24 hours.

    Their heroic efforts, however, did not change the suffering of those who lost everything.

    The scene at Tirana’s main trauma hospital was one of agony. Relatives pleaded for their loved ones to be airlifted out of the country for treatment, even as some of those recovering from injuries remained unaware of the extent of their loss.

    “My sister thinks her daughter and her husband are in the hospital,” said Drita Cakoni. “She is asking to see her daughter. But her daughter is dead. So is her husband. She has lost everything.”

    Because her sister’s heart is weak, the doctors asked Ms. Cakoni not to say anything for at least a few weeks.

    On the radio, there were appeals from frightened citizens who feared that their homes could collapse. One elderly woman described how her family had been spending their nights in their car, afraid that the complex in the small town of Golem, in Kavaja municipality, would not stand much longer.

    “There have been no inspections,” she told a broadcaster.

    5
    Emergency personnel put an Albanian flag on top of rubble during a search for survivors in Durres.Credit…Florion Goga/Reuters

    Along with very real concerns and the ongoing danger brought by aftershocks, the government was also contending with false stories stirring fear on social media.

    Mr. Rama issued a warning to those spreading lies on social media.

    “I will be forced to intervene to close them down up until the end of this emergency situation if they continue to publish fake news causing panic,” he said.

    After an earlier earthquake in September, a Facebook page posted a false warning that another quake was imminent, sending tens of thousands of people in the capital into a frenzy, causing them to leave their homes and drive to open spaces.

    People hardly needed fake news to be put on edge. The past three days have done the job.

    Most people here are familiar with a slogan from Communist times: “The earthquakes rocked the mountains but not the Albanian heart.” Thursday marked the anniversary of Albania’s independence from Ottoman rule in 1912, but the flags strung up on the streets of Durres for the celebration were lowered to half-staff and the day was declared one of mourning.

    But even as hopes of finding more survivors dimmed, at least one family got some good news along with the bad.

    Altin Celshima, 40, escaped his home with his family, but when he got to a hotel where his nephew and his nephew’s grandparents were staying, he found the seven-story building had collapsed.

    “It was terrible, like a living hell,” he said.

    The grandparents were located within six hours — the grandmother still alive, the grandfather struck dead by a falling beam. But it wasn’t until some panicked 20 hours after the quake, with help from Albanian and Greek rescuers, that the nephew was finally pulled out, alive.

    “It was a miracle he survived,” Mr. Celshima said.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on September 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Distant Quake Triggered Slow Slip on Southern San Andreas", , , Earthquakes, ,   

    From Eos: “Distant Quake Triggered Slow Slip on Southern San Andreas” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    23 September 2019
    Terri Cook

    A high-resolution map of surface displacements indicates that the 2017 Chiapas earthquake caused substantial creep along a segment of the San Andreas Fault, located 3,000 kilometers away.

    1
    The 2017 magnitude 8.3 Chiapas earthquake caused up to 15 millimeters of creep on the segment of the San Andreas Fault that runs along the northeastern edge of California’s Salton Sea. Credit: USGS/NASA’s Earth Observatory

    In the traditional model of the earthquake cycle, a seismic event occurs when an active fault abruptly releases strain that has built up over time. About 20 years ago, however, seismologists began finding that some faults, or sections of faults, can experience slow earthquakes—a gradual type of aseismic slip, or “creep,” that can last for months. Because both types of events release pent-up energy, determining the proportion of seismic versus aseismic slip along active faults is crucial for estimating their potential hazard.

    Although conventional interpretations predict that aseismic slip should occur at a roughly constant rate, geodetic observations have shown that at some locations fault creep is anything but steady. Measurements along the southern San Andreas Fault in California, one of the most studied examples of a creeping fault, have shown that this section often experiences bouts of accelerated creep and that these events can be spontaneous or triggered by seismic events. But the underlying conditions and mechanisms that cause slow slip are still poorly understood.

    4
    San Andreas Fault. Temblor

    Now Tymofyeyeva et al. [JGR Solid Earth] report detailed observations of a slow-slip event that occurred along the southern San Andreas Fault following the magnitude 8.3 earthquake that hit offshore Chiapas, Mexico, in September 2017. The team combined the results of field mapping with creepmeter and Sentinel-1 interferometric synthetic aperture radar observations to create a high-resolution map of surface displacements near the Salton Sea. The researchers then entered the results into numerical models to constrain the crustal properties that could generate the observed behavior.

    The results indicated that surface slip along the 40-kilometer-long section between Bombay Beach and the Mecca Hills accelerated within minutes of the Chiapas earthquake and continued for more than a year. The event resulted in total surface offsets that averaged 5-10 millimeters, comparable to the slow slip triggered by the 2010 magnitude 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah (Baja) earthquake, even though the stress changes along the southern San Andreas due to the Chiapas earthquake were several orders of magnitude lower.

    The findings offer compelling evidence that the Chiapas earthquake triggered the 2017 slow-slip event along the southern San Andreas Fault, according to the researchers, and show that although shallow creep near the Salton Sea is roughly constant on decadal timescales, it can vary significantly over shorter periods of time. The authors conclude that the response of the southern San Andreas, and potentially other major faults, to different seismic events is complex and likely reflects crustal conditions as well as local creep history.

    See the full article here .

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
    • Skyscapes for the Soul 2:40 pm on September 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting that there is slow aseismic slip on my local part of the San Andreas. Explains why that fault hardly ever pops like the Borrego fault does.

      Like

  • richardmitnick 11:04 am on September 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Earthquakes, , , ,   

    From LANL via WIRED: “AI Helps Seismologists Predict Earthquakes” 

    LANL bloc

    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    via

    Wired logo

    From WIRED

    Machine learning is bringing seismologists closer to an elusive goal: forecasting quakes well before they strike.

    1
    Remnants of a 2,000-year-old spruce forest on Neskowin Beach, Oregon — one of dozens of “ghost forests” along the Oregon and Washington coast. It’s thought that a mega-earthquake of the Cascadia subduction zone felled the trees, and that the stumps were then buried by tsunami debris.Photograph: Race Jones/Outlive Creative

    In May of last year, after a 13-month slumber, the ground beneath Washington’s Puget Sound rumbled to life. The quake began more than 20 miles below the Olympic mountains and, over the course of a few weeks, drifted northwest, reaching Canada’s Vancouver Island. It then briefly reversed course, migrating back across the US border before going silent again. All told, the monthlong earthquake likely released enough energy to register as a magnitude 6. By the time it was done, the southern tip of Vancouver Island had been thrust a centimeter or so closer to the Pacific Ocean.

    Because the quake was so spread out in time and space, however, it’s likely that no one felt it. These kinds of phantom earthquakes, which occur deeper underground than conventional, fast earthquakes, are known as “slow slips.” They occur roughly once a year in the Pacific Northwest, along a stretch of fault where the Juan de Fuca plate is slowly wedging itself beneath the North American plate. More than a dozen slow slips have been detected by the region’s sprawling network of seismic stations since 2003. And for the past year and a half, these events have been the focus of a new effort at earthquake prediction by the geophysicist Paul Johnson.

    Johnson’s team is among a handful of groups that are using machine learning to try to demystify earthquake physics and tease out the warning signs of impending quakes. Two years ago, using pattern-finding algorithms similar to those behind recent advances in image and speech recognition and other forms of artificial intelligence, he and his collaborators successfully predicted temblors in a model laboratory system—a feat that has since been duplicated by researchers in Europe.

    Now, in a paper posted this week on the scientific preprint site arxiv.org, Johnson and his team report that they’ve tested their algorithm on slow slip quakes in the Pacific Northwest. The paper has yet to undergo peer review, but outside experts say the results are tantalizing. According to Johnson, they indicate that the algorithm can predict the start of a slow slip earthquake to “within a few days—and possibly better.”

    “This is an exciting development,” said Maarten de Hoop, a seismologist at Rice University who was not involved with the work. “For the first time, I think there’s a moment where we’re really making progress” toward earthquake prediction.

    Mostafa Mousavi, a geophysicist at Stanford University, called the new results “interesting and motivating.” He, de Hoop, and others in the field stress that machine learning has a long way to go before it can reliably predict catastrophic earthquakes—and that some hurdles may be difficult, if not impossible, to surmount. Still, in a field where scientists have struggled for decades and seen few glimmers of hope, machine learning may be their best shot.

    Sticks and Slips

    The late seismologist Charles Richter, for whom the Richter magnitude scale is named, noted in 1977 that earthquake prediction can provide “a happy hunting ground for amateurs, cranks, and outright publicity-seeking fakers.” Today, many seismologists will tell you that they’ve seen their fair share of all three.

    But there have also been reputable scientists who concocted theories that, in hindsight, seem woefully misguided, if not downright wacky. There was the University of Athens geophysicist Panayiotis Varotsos, who claimed he could detect impending earthquakes by measuring “seismic electric signals.” There was Brian Brady, the physicist from the US Bureau of Mines who in the early 1980s sounded successive false alarms in Peru, basing them on a tenuous notion that rock bursts in underground mines were telltale signs of coming quakes.

    Paul Johnson is well aware of this checkered history. He knows that the mere phrase “earthquake prediction” is taboo in many quarters. He knows about the six Italian scientists who were convicted of manslaughter in 2012 for downplaying the chances of an earthquake near the central Italian town of L’Aquila, days before the region was devastated by a magnitude 6.3 temblor. (The convictions were later overturned.) He knows about the prominent seismologists who have forcefully declared that “earthquakes cannot be predicted.”

    But Johnson also knows that earthquakes are physical processes, no different in that respect from the collapse of a dying star or the shifting of the winds. And though he stresses that his primary aim is to better understand fault physics, he hasn’t shied away from the prediction problem.

    2
    Paul Johnson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, photographed in 2008 with a block of acrylic plastic, one of the materials his team uses to simulate earthquakes in the laboratory.Photograph: Los Alamos National Laboratory

    More than a decade ago, Johnson began studying “laboratory earthquakes,” made with sliding blocks separated by thin layers of granular material. Like tectonic plates, the blocks don’t slide smoothly but in fits and starts: They’ll typically stick together for seconds at a time, held in place by friction, until the shear stress grows large enough that they suddenly slip. That slip—the laboratory version of an earthquake—releases the stress, and then the stick-slip cycle begins anew.

    When Johnson and his colleagues recorded the acoustic signal emitted during those stick-slip cycles, they noticed sharp peaks just before each slip. Those precursor events were the laboratory equivalent of the seismic waves produced by foreshocks before an earthquake. But just as seismologists have struggled to translate foreshocks into forecasts of when the main quake will occur, Johnson and his colleagues couldn’t figure out how to turn the precursor events into reliable predictions of laboratory quakes. “We were sort of at a dead end,” Johnson recalled. “I couldn’t see any way to proceed.”

    At a meeting a few years ago in Los Alamos, Johnson explained his dilemma to a group of theoreticians. They suggested he reanalyze his data using machine learning—an approach that was well known by then for its prowess at recognizing patterns in audio data.

    Together, the scientists hatched a plan. They would take the roughly five minutes of audio recorded during each experimental run—encompassing 20 or so stick-slip cycles—and chop it up into many tiny segments. For each segment, the researchers calculated more than 80 statistical features, including the mean signal, the variation about that mean, and information about whether the segment contained a precursor event. Because the researchers were analyzing the data in hindsight, they also knew how much time had elapsed between each sound segment and the subsequent failure of the laboratory fault.

    Armed with this training data, they used what’s known as a “random forest” machine learning algorithm to systematically look for combinations of features that were strongly associated with the amount of time left before failure. After seeing a couple of minutes’ worth of experimental data, the algorithm could begin to predict failure times based on the features of the acoustic emission alone.

    Johnson and his co-workers chose to employ a random forest algorithm to predict the time before the next slip in part because—compared with neural networks and other popular machine learning algorithms—random forests are relatively easy to interpret. The algorithm essentially works like a decision tree in which each branch splits the data set according to some statistical feature. The tree thus preserves a record of which features the algorithm used to make its predictions—and the relative importance of each feature in helping the algorithm arrive at those predictions.

    3
    A polarizing lens shows the buildup of stress as a model tectonic plate slides laterally along a fault line in an experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory.Photograph: Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    When the Los Alamos researchers probed those inner workings of their algorithm, what they learned surprised them. The statistical feature the algorithm leaned on most heavily for its predictions was unrelated to the precursor events just before a laboratory quake. Rather, it was the variance—a measure of how the signal fluctuates about the mean—and it was broadcast throughout the stick-slip cycle, not just in the moments immediately before failure. The variance would start off small and then gradually climb during the run-up to a quake, presumably as the grains between the blocks increasingly jostled one another under the mounting shear stress. Just by knowing this variance, the algorithm could make a decent guess at when a slip would occur; information about precursor events helped refine those guesses.

    The finding had big potential implications. For decades, would-be earthquake prognosticators had keyed in on foreshocks and other isolated seismic events. The Los Alamos result suggested that everyone had been looking in the wrong place—that the key to prediction lay instead in the more subtle information broadcast during the relatively calm periods between the big seismic events.

    To be sure, sliding blocks don’t begin to capture the chemical, thermal and morphological complexity of true geological faults. To show that machine learning could predict real earthquakes, Johnson needed to test it out on a real fault. What better place to do that, he figured, than in the Pacific Northwest?

    Out of the Lab

    Most if not all of the places on Earth that can experience a magnitude 9 earthquake are subduction zones, where one tectonic plate dives beneath another. A subduction zone just east of Japan was responsible for the Tohoku earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that devastated the country’s coastline in 2011. One day, the Cascadia subduction zone, where the Juan de Fuca plate dives beneath the North American plate, will similarly devastate Puget Sound, Vancouver Island and the surrounding Pacific Northwest.

    Cascadia plate zones

    Cascadia subduction zone

    The Cascadia subduction zone stretches along roughly 1,000 kilometers of the Pacific coastline from Cape Mendocino in Northern California to Vancouver Island. The last time it breached, in January 1700, it begot a magnitude 9 temblor and a tsunami that reached the coast of Japan. Geological records suggest that throughout the Holocene, the fault has produced such megaquakes roughly once every half-millennium, give or take a few hundred years. Statistically speaking, the next big one is due any century now.

    That’s one reason seismologists have paid such close attention to the region’s slow slip earthquakes. The slow slips in the lower reaches of a subduction-zone fault are thought to transmit small amounts of stress to the brittle crust above, where fast, catastrophic quakes occur. With each slow slip in the Puget Sound-Vancouver Island area, the chances of a Pacific Northwest megaquake ratchet up ever so slightly. Indeed, a slow slip was observed in Japan in the month leading up to the Tohoku quake.

    For Johnson, however, there’s another reason to pay attention to slow slip earthquakes: They produce lots and lots of data. For comparison, there have been no major fast earthquakes on the stretch of fault between Puget Sound and Vancouver Island in the past 12 years. In the same time span, the fault has produced a dozen slow slips, each one recorded in a detailed seismic catalog.

    That seismic catalog is the real-world counterpart to the acoustic recordings from Johnson’s laboratory earthquake experiment. Just as they did with the acoustic recordings, Johnson and his co-workers chopped the seismic data into small segments, characterizing each segment with a suite of statistical features. They then fed that training data, along with information about the timing of past slow slip events, to their machine learning algorithm.

    After being trained on data from 2007 to 2013, the algorithm was able to make predictions about slow slips that occurred between 2013 and 2018, based on the data logged in the months before each event. The key feature was the seismic energy, a quantity closely related to the variance of the acoustic signal in the laboratory experiments. Like the variance, the seismic energy climbed in a characteristic fashion in the run-up to each slow slip.

    The Cascadia forecasts weren’t quite as accurate as the ones for laboratory quakes. The correlation coefficients characterizing how well the predictions fit observations were substantially lower in the new results than they were in the laboratory study. Still, the algorithm was able to predict all but one of the five slow slips that occurred between 2013 and 2018, pinpointing the start times, Johnson says, to within a matter of days. (A slow slip that occurred in August 2019 wasn’t included in the study.)

    For de Hoop, the big takeaway is that “machine learning techniques have given us a corridor, an entry into searching in data to look for things that we have never identified or seen before.” But he cautions that there’s more work to be done. “An important step has been taken—an extremely important step. But it is like a tiny little step in the right direction.”

    Sobering Truths

    The goal of earthquake forecasting has never been to predict slow slips. Rather, it’s to predict sudden, catastrophic quakes that pose danger to life and limb. For the machine learning approach, this presents a seeming paradox: The biggest earthquakes, the ones that seismologists would most like to be able to foretell, are also the rarest. How will a machine learning algorithm ever get enough training data to predict them with confidence?

    The Los Alamos group is betting that their algorithms won’t actually need to train on catastrophic earthquakes to predict them. Recent studies suggest that the seismic patterns before small earthquakes are statistically similar to those of their larger counterparts, and on any given day, dozens of small earthquakes may occur on a single fault. A computer trained on thousands of those small temblors might be versatile enough to predict the big ones. Machine learning algorithms might also be able to train on computer simulations of fast earthquakes that could one day serve as proxies for real data.

    But even so, scientists will confront this sobering truth: Although the physical processes that drive a fault to the brink of an earthquake may be predictable, the actual triggering of a quake—the growth of a small seismic disturbance into full-blown fault rupture—is believed by most scientists to contain at least an element of randomness. Assuming that’s so, no matter how well machines are trained, they may never be able to predict earthquakes as well as scientists predict other natural disasters.

    “We don’t know what forecasting in regards to timing means yet,” Johnson said. “Would it be like a hurricane? No, I don’t think so.”

    In the best-case scenario, predictions of big earthquakes will probably have time bounds of weeks, months or years. Such forecasts probably couldn’t be used, say, to coordinate a mass evacuation on the eve of a temblor. But they could increase public preparedness, help public officials target their efforts to retrofit unsafe buildings, and otherwise mitigate hazards of catastrophic earthquakes.

    Johnson sees that as a goal worth striving for. Ever the realist, however, he knows it will take time. “I’m not saying we’re going to predict earthquakes in my lifetime,” he said, “but … we’re going to make a hell of a lot of progress.”

    See the full article here .

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network project Earthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

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  • richardmitnick 8:55 am on August 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Earthquakes, ,   

    From University of Washington: “USGS awards $10.4M to ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system in the Pacific Northwest “ 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    August 19, 2019

    The U.S. Geological Survey today announced $10.4 million in funding to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based at University of Washington, to support the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system. Some $7.3 million of the funding will go to the UW.

    The PNSN is responsible for monitoring earthquakes and volcanoes in Washington and Oregon. It is a partnership between the University of Washington, the University of Oregon and the USGS. The support for the PNSN is among the new ShakeAlert cooperative agreements announced today by the USGS.

    The first year’s funding of $5.4 million to the PNSN begins this month. The UW will receive about $3.75 million in direct support of its PNSN activities and $1.66 million will support the PNSN team at the University of Oregon. The second-year funding, of an additional $5 million, is contingent on approval by Congress and will be similarly shared.

    1
    Karl Hagel and Pat McChesney, field engineers with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network team at the University of Washington, install earthquake monitoring equipment on the slopes of Mount St. Helens, with Mount Hood in the distance.Marc Biundo/University of Washington.

    “This investment in the PNSN represents a major increase in federal support for earthquake monitoring in the Cascadia region,” said Harold Tobin, director of the PNSN and professor in the UW’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences. “At the end of the two years of funding we anticipate having essentially doubled the number of seismic stations across our whole region that contribute to real-time earthquake early warning. This would allow for full public alerts of any potentially damaging earthquakes, across our entire region of Washington and Oregon, by the end of the two-year period.”

    This new award will allow for installation of 104 new seismic stations in Washington state and 44 in Oregon, during the two-year period. It will also support improved, more-sophisticated detection of earthquakes as they begin, and new efforts to engage potential users of the warnings.

    ShakeAlert’s network of instruments detect the first, less damaging waves from a major earthquake close to where the earthquake begins. The system then issues alerts for the estimated size and location of the earthquake, providing seconds or minutes of warning before the more damaging ground shaking begins – enough for someone to pull off the road, stop a surgery, or find a safe place to take shelter.

    2
    A sample warning, with a countdown of the number of seconds until the strong shaking reaches the user.Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

    In the Pacific Northwest’s pilot phase of the system, early adopters in the region have developed pilot projects with guidance and support from the PNSN and USGS, and have received ShakeAlert warning messages for the past two years. These warnings are currently used to trigger loss-reduction measures at critical facilities — such as turning off water valves in public utility districts — before dangerous shaking would arrive.

    The additional funding will support the development of new pilot projects in schools, businesses, communities and critical infrastructure facilities in preparation for the eventual goal of open alerts to the general public, as launched recently in the Los Angeles region. The improvements to PNSN’s network supported by this funding will meet the USGS’ recommended station-density standard for public alerting in almost all areas of Washington and Oregon.

    “It will enable us to rapidly build out our network to produce faster and more accurate alerts for Cascadia Region earthquakes,” Tobin said.

    3
    Existing Pacific Northwest Seismic Network ShakeAlert stations, as of spring 2019. The new funding will roughly double the number of stations in Washington and Oregon.

    The funding will also support ongoing research to integrate GPS data into ShakeAlert, which will allow quicker estimates of the magnitude of offshore Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes as they unfold. The UW is sharing its research in this area with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA in the hope of improving tsunami-warning capabilities. The UW is working with Central Washington University, also supported by USGS, to receive near-real-time GPS data from across Washington and Oregon that will be integrated into future releases of ShakeAlert.

    The regional ShakeAlert effort began in 2011, when the UW joined the University of California, Berkeley and California Institute of Technology as a primary ShakeAlert center in the developing a West Coast warning system. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded $2 million to each university to kick-start ShakeAlert from a research project to an operational system. With support from Congress, the USGS ramped up support for ShakeAlert as the foundation’s seed funding expired.

    Additional support for PNSN operations comes from the U.S. Department of Energy and the states Oregon and Washington. The Washington legislature, in its current biennium budget, allocated $1.24 million over two years for additional enhancements to the ShakeAlert network.

    See the full article here .


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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:25 am on August 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A big earthquake in the US Pacific Northwest?", Cascadia megathrust fault, , Earthquakes, , ,   

    From University or Oregon via EarthSky: “A big earthquake in the US Pacific Northwest?” 

    From University or Oregon

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    August 5, 2019
    Miles Bodmer, University of Oregon
    Doug Toomey, University of Oregon

    Most people don’t associate the US Pacific Northwest with earthquakes, but maybe they should. It’s home to the 600-mile (1,000-km) Cascadia megathrust fault, stretching from northern California to Canada’s Vancouver Island.

    1
    Data derived from NaturalEarthData.com, 10m datasets. Projected into NAD83 UTM 9N. Alicia.iverson

    3
    This is the USGS’ scenario ShakeMap for a M9 shock on the Casdadia Subduction Zone. This is not a real event.
    23 December 2016
    Source Earthquakes Shakemap usCasc9.0_se
    Author United States Geological Survey

    The Pacific Northwest is known for many things – its beer, its music, its mythical large-footed creatures. Most people don’t associate it with earthquakes, but they should. It’s home to the Cascadia megathrust fault that runs 600 miles (966 km) from Northern California up to Vancouver Island in Canada, spanning several major metropolitan areas including Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

    This geologic fault has been relatively quiet in recent memory. There haven’t been many widely felt quakes along the Cascadia megathrust, certainly nothing that would rival a catastrophic event like the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake along the active San Andreas in California. That doesn’t mean it will stay quiet, though. Scientists know it has the potential for large earthquakes – as big as magnitude 9.

    Geophysicists have known for over a decade that not all portions of the Cascadia megathrust fault behave the same. The northern and southern sections are much more seismically active than the central section – with frequent small earthquakes and ground deformations that residents don’t often notice. But why do these variations exist and what gives rise to them?

    Our research tries to answer these questions by constructing images of what’s happening deep within the Earth [Geophysical Research Letters Research], more than 90 miles (144 km) below the fault. We’ve identified regions that are rising up beneath these active sections which we think are leading to the observable differences along the Cascadia fault.

    Cascadia and the ‘Really Big One’

    The Cascadia subduction zone is a region where two tectonic plates are colliding. The Juan de Fuca, a small oceanic plate, is being driven under the North American plate, atop which the continental U.S. sits.

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    The Juan de Fuca plate meets the North American plate beneath the Cascadia fault. Image via USGS.

    Subduction systems – where one tectonic plate slides over another – are capable of producing the world’s largest known earthquakes. A prime example is the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that rocked Japan.

    Cascadia is seismically very quiet compared to other subduction zones – but it’s not completely inactive. Research indicates the fault ruptured in a magnitude 9.0 event in 1700. That’s roughly 30 times more powerful than the largest predicted San Andreas earthquake. Researchers suggest that we are within the roughly 300- to 500-year window during which another large Cascadia event may occur.

    Many smaller undamaging and unfelt events take place in northern and southern Cascadia every year. However, in central Cascadia, underlying most of Oregon, there is very little seismicity. Why would the same fault behave differently in different regions?

    Over the last decade, scientists have made several additional observations that highlight variations along the fault.

    One has to do with plate locking, which tells us where stress is accumulating along the fault. If the tectonic plates are locked – that is, really stuck together and unable to move past each other – stress builds. Eventually that stress can be released rapidly as an earthquake, with the magnitude depending on how large the patch of fault that ruptures is.

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    A GPS geosensor in Washington. Image via Bdelisle.

    Geologists have recently been able to deploy hundreds of GPS monitors across Cascadia to record the subtle ground deformations that result from the plates’ inability to slide past each other. Just like historic seismicity, plate locking is more common in the northern and southern parts of Cascadia.

    Geologists are also now able to observe difficult-to-detect seismic rumblings known as tremor. These events occur over the time span of several minutes up to weeks, taking much longer than a typical earthquake. They don’t cause large ground motions even though they can release significant amounts of energy. Researchers have only discovered these signals in the last 15 years, but permanent seismic stations have helped build a robust catalog of events. Tremor, too, seems to be more concentrated along the northern and southern parts of the fault.

    What would cause this situation, with the area beneath Oregon relatively less active by all these measures? To explain we had to look deep, over 100 kilometers (60 miles) below the surface, into the Earth’s mantle.

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    Green dots and blue triangles show locations of seismic monitoring stations. Image via Bodmer et al., 2018, Geophysical Research Letters.

    Imaging the Earth using distant quakes

    Physicians use electromagnetic waves to “see” internal structures like bones without needing to open up a human patient to view them directly. Geologists image the Earth in much the same way. Instead of X-rays, we use seismic energy radiating out from distant magnitude 6.0-plus earthquakes to help us “see” features we physically just can’t get to. This energy travels like sound waves through the structures of the Earth. When rock is hotter or partially molten by even a tiny amount, seismic waves slow down. By measuring the arrival times of seismic waves, we create 3-D images showing how fast or slow the seismic waves travel through specific parts of the Earth.

    6
    Ocean bottom seismometers waiting to be deployed during the Cascadia Initiative. Image via Emilie Hooft.

    To see these signals, we need records from seismic monitoring stations. More sensors provide better resolution and a clearer image – but gathering more data can be problematic when half the area you’re interested in is underwater. To address this challenge, we were part of a team of scientists that deployed hundreds of seismometers on the ocean floor off the western U.S. over the span of four years, starting in 2011. This experiment, the Cascadia Initiative, was the first ever to cover an entire tectonic plate with instruments at a spacing of roughly 30 miles (50 km).

    What we found are two anomalous regions beneath the fault where seismic waves travel slower than expected. These anomalies are large, about 90 miles (150 km) in diameter, and show up beneath the northern and southern sections of the fault. Remember, that’s where researchers have already observed increased activity: the seismicity. Interestingly, the anomalies are not present beneath the central part of the fault, under Oregon, where we see a decrease in activity.

    7
    Regions where seismic waves moved more slowly, on average, are redder, while the areas where they moved more quickly are bluer. The slower anomalous areas 90 miles (150 km) beneath the Earth’s surface corresponded to where the colliding plates are more locked and where tremor is more common. Image via Bodmer et al., 2018, Geophysical Research Letters.

    So what exactly are these anomalies?

    The tectonic plates float on the Earth’s rocky mantle layer. Where the mantle is slowly rising over millions of years, the rock decompresses. Since it’s at such high temperatures, nearly 1500 degrees Celsius (2700 F) at 100 km (60 mi) depth, it can melt ever so slightly.

    These physical changes cause the anomalous regions to be more buoyant – melted hot rock is less dense than solid cooler rock. It’s this buoyancy that we believe is affecting how the fault above behaves. The hot, partially molten region pushes upwards on what’s above, similar to how a helium balloon might rise up against a sheet draped over it. We believe this increases the forces between the two plates, causing them to be more strongly coupled and thus more fully locked.

    A general prediction for where, but not when

    Our results provide new insights into how this subduction zone, and possibly others, behaves over geologic time frames of millions of years. Unfortunately our results can’t predict when the next large Cascadia megathrust earthquake will occur. This will require more research and dense active monitoring of the subduction zone, both onshore and offshore, using seismic and GPS-like stations to capture short-term phenomena.

    Our work does suggest that a large event is more likely to start in either the northern or southern sections of the fault, where the plates are more fully locked, and gives a possible reason for why that may be the case.

    It remains important for the public and policymakers to stay informed about the potential risk involved in cohabiting with a subduction zone fault and to support programs such as Earthquake Early Warning that seek to expand our monitoring capabilities and mitigate loss in the event of a large rupture.

    See the full article here .

    Earthquake Alert

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    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Oregon (also referred to as UO, U of O or Oregon) is a public flagship research university in Eugene, Oregon. Founded in 1876, the institution’s 295-acre campus is along the Willamette River. Since July 2014, UO has been governed by the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon. The university has a Carnegie Classification of “highest research activity” and has 19 research centers and institutes. UO was admitted to the Association of American Universities in 1969.

    The University of Oregon is organized into five colleges (Arts and Sciences, Business, Design, Education, and Honors) and seven professional schools (Accounting, Architecture and Environment, Art and Design, Journalism and Communication, Law, Music and Dance, and Planning, Public Policy and Management) and a graduate school. Furthermore, UO offers 316 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Most academic programs follow the 10 week Quarter System.

    UO student-athletes compete as the Ducks and are part of the Pac-12 Conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). With eighteen varsity teams, the Oregon Ducks are best known for their football team and track and field program.

     
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