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UO professor working on ShakeAlert earthquake warning system

"ShakeAlert" is an earthquake early warning system they have been working on for more than 25 years.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 6:35 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The "Big One" could happen at any moment here on the west coast. So, professors with the University of Oregon are teaming up with other universities and federal agencies to create an alert system to warn people before earthquakes strike.

"ShakeAlert" is an earthquake early-warning system they have been working on for more than 25 years.

Douglas Toomey, a geophysics professor at the university, said “ShakeAlert” will provide a warning seconds to minutes before an earthquake, so people can prepare for the unexpected. He also said through automation, industry, utilities, and transportation sectors will be able to power down or protect critical operations.

"When people don't have an alert before an earthquake and they're caught off guard, there's studies that show in previous earthquakes that billions of dollars of injuries occur because people are running, they're frightened or things fall on them,” Toomey said. “So, if we knew right now that strong shaking was going to arrive in seconds to minutes, we could protect ourselves and duck, cover and hold, and that could prevent a lot of injuries."

He said they are still in the relatively early stages of developing ShakeAlert. Toomey said it's not available for the public due to funding and said more mass-alert testing needs to be done.

To learn more about ShakeAlert, click here.

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