Distinguished Lectureship - Speakers

Dr. Sarah Minson

Research Geophysicist
U.S. Geological Survey Menlo Park,
Menlo Park, California

“Imminent Shaking": What Kind of Earthquake Warning is Possible?

Curriculum Vitae

Sarah Minson is a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Science Center. Her research interests include determining the physics of earthquake ruptures, and estimating the slip distribution and predicting the ground motion from earthquakes in real-time for earthquake early warning. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to her current position, she was a Mendenhall post-doctoral fellow with the US Geological Survey as well as a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. She is a winner of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and a Kavli Fellow (National Academy of Sciences and The Kavli Foundation). View Sarah's staff profile here.

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The United States is developing ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system that will provide California, Oregon, and Washington with advanced warning of potentially damaging shaking. The hopes for early warning systems are high, but the reality of what can be expected from earthquake early warning is nuanced. Earthquakes don’t happen in an instant and don’t tell us how big they will become. This means that any forecasts that we make will be imperfect, and the amount of warning will be short; in many cases, only a few seconds of warning will be possible. In spite of these limitations, there could still be significant value to earthquake early warning, especially for people who are willing to adopt a “better safe than sorry” strategy of taking protective action for earthquakes that have only a small chance of causing damage. What kind of warning system would you prefer? One that issues alerts for weak shaking, but also sends alerts for many events that do not go on to produce strong shaking? Or an earthquake early warning system that issues alerts only once ground shaking is expected to be damaging, but there is an increased chance that the alerts could be issued too late? During this talk, you will discover how an earthquake early warning system works, how warnings are issued and how much warning is possible.

Date Venue
Oct 17 2019, 7:30 PM Exploratorium, San Francisco, California
Jan 24 2020, 7:00 PM Southwestern Oregon Community College, Coos Bay, Oregon
Mar 04 2020, 7:00 PM Discovery Museum, Science Distilled, Reno, Nevada
Sep 29 2020, 6:30 PM OMSI Virtual Science Pub, Portland, Oregon