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May 03, 2015

Horst Rademacher

Why was last weekend's earthquake in Nepal so devastating? One reason is the geologic setting: When a magnitude 7.9 quake with a shallow source of only 12 kilometers below the ground strikes, very strong seismic shaking has to be expected and significant ground motion will spread over a very large area. Indeed, last Saturday's seismic waves were clearly felt both in New Delhi as well as in Dhaka. Each capital is located more than 800 km away from the epicenter.
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Peggy Hellweg on the latest Nepal earthquake

May 2, 2015
CCTV America

The BSL's Peggy Hellweg talks about the second large earthquake in Nepal what can be done worldwide for earthquake early warning and earthquake preparation.


Scientists on the trail of flurries of tremors near quake zones

Mysterious seismic tremors deep inside the Earth have puzzled earthquake scientists for more than a decade, so on Thursday scientists lowered a package of sensitive instruments into the San Andreas Fault to learn what those tiny quakes mean.

The most recent surge of underground tremors followed the destructive Napa earthquake in August. For 100 days in a row, wave after wave of them triggered seismometers 250 miles away near the tiny southern Monterey County towns of Parkfield and Cholame, said Robert Nadeau, a geophysicist at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

At Cholame on Thursday, seismologist Peggy Hellweg, the operations manager at the seismological lab, and her colleagues lowered a compact array of three seismometers, known as the Tremorscope, into the ground through a concrete-encased borehole drilled 750 feet down.

Read more at SFGATE...

News graphic with map showing cluster of tremor locations 2001-2011, the location of the M6.0 Parkfield 2004 quake, and the San Andreas Fault.

Quake warnings of minutes, not hours, are possible, but pricey

April 27, 2015
By Sharon Begley

(Reuters) - Nepal's record of earthquakes dates to at least the 13th century, with significant temblors striking every 75 years or so. And through all that time, in Nepal as in most seismically active areas, there has been one constant: people in the path of destruction have had no idea when the shaking would start.

Even after decades of research, "our ability to predict earthquakes is still non-existent," said seismologist Peggy Hellweg, of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

The area around Kathmandu suffered damaging quakes in 1934 and 1988, but when disaster experts met in Nepal's capital earlier this month, all they could forecast was that the next one would probably come in the next couple of decades.

Read more at REUTERS



Cell phones as quake early warning devices? Scientists hope so

April 10, 2015
By David Perlman

Add this to your smartphone’s many functions: In the near future it could help save lives by warning that a powerful, distant earthquake is about to shake the ground.

Earthquake scientists are proposing that “crowdsourcing” hundreds or even thousands of volunteers with their highly sensitive mobile phones could create a seismic early warning system to alert users of oncoming seismic shocks.

Seismologists in Menlo Park and UC Berkeley are testing the phones and foresee them as particularly useful in developing regions, like Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, that are prone to large and often devastating earthquakes but where more sophisticated warning systems don’t exist.

Read more at SFGATE


Left: Joe Cagajeski (front) and Erica Vaughn (behind) on their phones while they wait for food from the Senior Sisig food truck in the financial district in San Francisco, California, on Monday, April 6, 2015. Someday, their phones might warn them of an approaching ground shaking. Photo: Liz Hafalia, SF Chronicle.


7.0+ Magnitude Mega-Quake Possible In Berkeley Hills As Seismic Movement Links Calaveras, Hayward Faults

April 2, 2015

BERKELEY (KCBS) - New research from seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley shows the Hayward Fault is actually a branch of the Calaveras Fault, meaning the faults have a much greater destructive potential in the case of a simultaneous rupture, potentially triggering a tremor stronger than the 1989 disaster.

Learn more at KCBS


Links in Hayward, Calaveras faults a big danger, scientists warn

April 2, 2015

New evidence shows clearly that traces of the long-feared Hayward Fault and the recently active Calveras Fault are closely linked underground - indicating that both could rupture together in an earthquake more destructive than past forecasts have indicated, Berkeley quake scientists report.

Read more at SFGATE


Calaveras-Hayward fault link means potentially larger quakes

UC Berkeley seismologists have proven that the Hayward Fault is essentially a branch of the Calaveras Fault that runs east of San Jose, which means that both could rupture together, resulting in a significantly more destructive earthquake than previously thought.

"The maximum earthquake on a fault is proportional to its length, so by having the two directly connected, we can have a rupture propagating across from one to the other, making a larger quake," said lead researcher Estelle Chaussard, a postdoctoral fellow in the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. "People have been looking for evidence of this for a long time, but only now do we have the data to prove it."

Read more at UC Berkeley News Center...

Screenshot of UCB News Center page showing headline

KQED Radio Forum: New Forecast Increases Odds for Huge Earthquake in California

March 12, 2015

Guests: Morgan Page (USGS Pasadena), Patrick Otellini (City and County of San Francisco), Richard Allen (BSL), Tim Dawson (California Geological Survey)

View on KQED Radio website


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Obama Urges Early Earthquake Warning System

February 4, 2015
Jean Elle

California lawmakers say President Barack Obama's recommendation to spend $5 million next year on an early earthquake warning system for the West Coast represents a significant breakthrough.


KTVU.com logo

UC Berkeley marks 100th anniversary of campus landmark

February 3rd, 2015
Amber Lee

BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) -- On the UC Berkeley campus Tuesday night, officials launched a year-long celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the prominent clock tower known as the Campanile with a special show.

...

Live music was provided by a carillon, a piano-like instrument played by musicians up inside the clock tower blended with simulated sounds of bells.

The composition they played was named "Natural Frequencies," music driven by a seismometer buried 70 feet below ground on campus that measures the earth's movements.

Full story at KTVU.com


LA Times logo

California receives U.S. funding for earthquake early-warning system

December 14, 2014
Rong-Gong Lin III, LA Times

Napa quake house damage

A home in Napa, damaged by a 6.0-magnitude earthquake in August. (Alvin Jornada / European Pressphoto Agency)

California has received congressional funding to begin rolling out an earthquake early-warning system next year, capping nearly a decade of planning, setbacks and technological breakthroughs, officials said Sunday.

Scientists have long planned to make such a system available to some schools, fire stations, and more private businesses in 2015, but their effort hinged on Congress providing $5 million. The system would give as much as a minute's warning before shaking is felt in metropolitan areas, a margin that experts say would increase survival.

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The early-warning system is considered a major advance in seismic safety because it can give the public crucial seconds to prepare for the effects of shaking. Scientists eventually want to make alerts available to a wider public via phones, computers and special devices, such as modified weather radios, once the network is refined.

Full story from LA Times


CBS Money Watch logo

California professor builds his own home earthquake detector

September 12, 2014
Bruce Kennedy, CBS MoneyWatch

Josh Blum hands and homemade detector

Berkeley astronomer Joshua Bloom says his home-made detector cost him about $100 -- and is built from a $35 minicomputer, a speaker, a Wi-Fi adapter and an SD memory card. It also uses Shake Alert, a software developed by researchers at Berkeley's seismology lab, and is linked to earthquake sensors all over California.

"Those sensors wind up shaking and send their signals to a central computer," Bloom told CBS station KPIX 5 -- signals that also broadcast an alert on his home device.

And it apparently works. Bloom says the detector woke him up about five seconds ahead of last month's Napa quake with an automated voice message, saying "Earthquake! Light shaking expected in seconds."

Video and full story at CBS Money Watch


Private Sector Takes Role in Advancing Quake Early Warning

Full story from NBC Los Angeles


Public Officials Support Berkeley's Earthquake Warning System

Full story at UC Berkeley News Center


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Earthquake warning systems exist. But California won't pay for one.

August 26, 2014
Alex Park, Mother Jones

Bricks fallen on car

As Bay Area residents clean their streets and homes after the biggest earthquake to hit California in 25 years rocked Napa Valley this weekend, scientists are pushing lawmakers to fund a statewide system that could warn citizens about earthquakes seconds before they hit.

California already has a system, called ShakeAlert, that uses a network of sensors around the state to detect earthquakes just before they happen. The system - a collaboration between the University of California-Berkeley, Caltech, the US Geological Survey (USGS), and various state offices - detects a nondestructive current called a P-wave that emanates from a quake's epicenter just before the destructive S-wave shakes the earth. ShakeAlert has successfully predicted several earthquakes, including this weekend's Napa quake. It could be turned into a statewide warning system. But so far, the money's not there.

Full story at Mother Jones


Peggy Hellweg and news anchor CBC logo

Berkeley's Earthquake Early Warning System

August 25, 2014
CBC News

Full story and Video at CBC News (Canada)


Looking for the Holy Grail in earthquake prediction

ABC 7 KGO logo

March 24, 2014
Wayne Freedman
ABC 7 KGO

"It is one of the stranger juxtapositions in science. Cass Winery in Paso Robles, where they pull more than wine from the soil. Look up there, high on the hill. It's a deeper quest. "At other sites we hit granite, we hit limestone." You will find many materials in California's unpredicatbel San Andreas earthquake fault which has a history of striking without warning. But maybe not in the future if Dr. Peggy Hellweg finds what she is looking for. A relatively new discovery: tremor waves..."


Photo of Lawson Adit entrance
San Francisco Chronicle logo

UC Berkeley taps its old mine shaft to study Hayward Fault

March 16, 2014
Will Kane

Mining 101 on the UC Berkeley campus a hundred years ago: the basics of dynamite, shoring a mine shaft, mine surveying and mine rescue.

And it wasn't just mining theory. The students, 18, 19 and 20 years old, actually blasted and dug a shaft, called the Lawson Adit, into the rocky hills on the northeastern corner of campus.

The shaft, which before a series of cave-ins ran nearly 900 feet into the earth just east of the Hearst Mining Building, still stretches some 200 dark, damp feet into the earth, but now sits mostly neglected behind an unassuming locked gate.

Earthquake researchers hope to install seismographs and high-frequency microphones that can detect the squeals of the nearby Hayward Fault later this year, but for now the adit is a mostly unknown bit of Berkeley - and Bay Area -history.

Read more at SF Gate...

Watch the story from KPIX...


Scientific American logo
Photo of destruction from Loma Prieta quake

Who Will Pay for an Earthquake Warning System on the West Coast?

Temblor early warning systems are real—and making their U.S. debut

Feb 6, 2014
By Amy Nordrum

A few weeks ago seismologist Tom Heaton was on the phone with a reporter extolling the virtues of a new earthquake early warning system he helped invent. Suddenly, an alert flashed across the computer screen in his Los Angeles–area office. “Oh, it just popped up! There was an earthquake in San Francisco and the waves will get to me in about two and a half minutes,” Heaton said with a glance. “But it's a [magnitude] 2.8 so we won’t feel it.”

Heaton, director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, is part of the team of California researchers behind the new warning system, called ShakeAlert. It is triggered by the earliest waves of a quake, which are too subtle for humans to feel.

Read more at Scientific American...


"If there's a prominent commonality in these signals, it might tell us something about the natural response of the stadium, or the stadium-soil system"
  - Doug Dreger, UC Berkeley seismologist and 49ers fan

Seattle NFL stadium now wired for crowd-quakes

17 January 2014
Alyssa Botelho

Come Sunday in Seattle, the CenturyLink Field American football stadium will be rocking – and there'll be seismic sensors there to prove it.

The stadium is home to the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks and renowned for its raucous crowds. In January 2011, the team's Marshawn Lynch ran his way into team history with an improbable game-winning touchdown (pictured), the reaction to which registered at a seismic station 90 metres from the stadium.

Now the stadium itself is wired to pick up crowd tremors, and starting last week, researchers at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) began streaming live seismic readings out to fans, and using the experience to test their readiness in case a real earthquake strikes the seismically active region.

Read more at New Scientist...