North China early-warning system for quakes

North China early-warning system for quakes

Jul 17th, 2014

North China early-warning system for quakes

North China has seen violent seismic activity, including an 8.2-magnitude earthquake in 1976, killing more than 242,000 people in Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin. That event was one of the deadliest calamities in human history.

China started to pay attention to early earthquake warnings after the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake, which killed nearly 70,000 people. Many countries, including Japan, Mexico and Turkey are equipped with early warning systems.

A real-time system can give warnings within seconds after a quake and can save lives in quakes with a magnitude of 6.0 or higher because the warnings, transmitted via radio waves, travel faster than seismic waves. Seismic waves travel “only” at 3 to 6 km/s.

A private Chinese research organization has developed an earthquake early warning system which to date has monitored quakes and sent more than one thousand correct early warnings since April 2010. Fifteen provinces and municipalities have installed the system, covering 910,000 km2.

Reportedly, on April 20, 2013, after the magnitude-7.0 Lushan earthquake in Sichuan, the system sent an early warning five seconds before seismic waves reached Ya’an, a city 33 km from Lushan county, and 28 seconds before seismic waves reached Chengdu. The Lushan earthquake killed 176 people and injured 12,614.

The system was lately installed in Beijing and its surrounding areas and China Daily reported that testing of this particular system begun a few months ago.

The latest Chinese system reportedly covers 130,000 km2 in the Beijing and Tianjin municipalities as well as neighboring Hebei province and others nearby.

The China Earthquake Administration noted that this system was developed by a private organization and its quake predictions are not official, adding that China is planning to build a national earthquake monitoring and warning system in five years.

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Category: Consequences, Hazard, Mitigations

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