Earthquake Early Warning

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Earthquake Early Warning

An earthquake warning system uses existing seismic networks to detect moderate to large earthquakes. Computers, communications technology, and alarms are devised to notify the public while an earthquake is in progress. This is not the same as earthquake prediction. Data from the 2011 Tohoku, Japan earthquake taught us much about mega-thrust earthquakes. In its simplest form, an earthquake early-warning system assumes the earthquake results from sudden slip on a small area of a fault surface, and the initial magnitude represents that motion. But for earthquakes greater than magnitude 7, that small patch at the epicenter is just the starting point for a rupture that spreads over a huge area as it tears the fault and radiates immense seismic energy. In this animation we can see how ground motion, measured by GPS, can enhance earthquake early warning.

 mp4 (21.8 MB)


Written and directed by Robert Butler, University of Portland
Animation & graphics by Jenda Johnson
Narrated by Roger Groom
Mega-quake rupture animation by Stephen D. Malone, Univ. of Washington
A collaborative effort with UNAVCO, CEETEP, University of Portland, Central Washington University, Oregon State University, and IRIS.

Please send feedback to Jenda Johnson.