Berkeley Seismo Lab in the News

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Dark Fiber: Using Sensors Beneath Our Feet to Tell Us About Earthquakes, Water, and Other Geophysical Phenomenon

Shan Dou (from left), Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, and Nate Lindsey were on a Berkeley Lab team that used fiber optic cables for detecting earthquakes and other subsurface activity. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

December 5, 2017

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have shown for the first time that dark fiber – the vast network of unused fiber-optic cables installed throughout the country and the world – can be used as sensors for detecting earthquakes, the presence of groundwater, changes in permafrost conditions, and a variety of other subsurface activity...

Read more at Berkeley Lab News Center

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Mexico City provides valuable lessons for U.S. earthquake early warning system

Damaged building from Mexico City quake

November 30, 2017

To determine how the public reacted to the early warning notices after the Sept. 7 Chiapas quake and the Sept. 19 Puebla quake, a team of seismologists from the University of California, Berkeley, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute flew to Mexico City in September. Led by Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and a professor of earth and planetary science, the team hoped to come away with tips on how to make the U.S. system even better than those in Mexico and places like Japan...

Read more at Berkeley News Center

Is the San Francisco Zoo ready for a tsunami?


October 5, 2017

Hurricanes don’t occur in the Bay Area, but after seeing so many animals rescued after the recent devastating storms in the Caribbean, one KALW listener asks about San Francisco Zoo's disaster plans...

Read more and listen at KALW

California Today: Mexico Has a Quake Warning System. Where is California’s?

Photo of crack in asphalt

September 21, 2017

Two major earthquakes in Mexico this month have served as a reminder to Californians. It’s just a matter of time...

Read more at New York Times

Mexico Far Ahead Of California With Earthquake Early-Warning System

Screenshot of Dr. Strauss

September 21, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A decade after development began on an earthquake early warning system in California, the project is still years away from full implementation.

Watch at CBS Bay Area

UC Berkeley seismologist says no clear link between two recent Mexico quakes

Screen shot of rescue from Mexico quake

September 20, 2017

A UC Berkeley seismologist says there is no clear link between the two recent Mexico quakes. Debora Villalon reports.

Watch at KTVU

California needs a robust earthquake system

Photo of destruction in recent Mexico quake

September 8, 2017

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Even just a few seconds can help most folks avoid panic, get out of harm’s way and function with some warning.

Earthquake alarms in Mexico City sounded more than a minute before the shaking from a massive 8.2 magnetite mega quake hit southern Mexico, 500 miles away...

Read more at KTVU

How earthquakes reveal the power of North Korea’s nukes

Man standing in front of large map of Southeast Asia

September 7, 2017

At the stroke of noon in North Korea on Sept. 3, the U.S. Geological Survey detected a seismic event — registering 6.3 on the Richter scale — in a remote area about 400 miles northeast of Pyongyang that sent tremors throughout South Korea and China. But it wasn’t an earthquake, at least not in the classic sense...

Read more at Vice News

An earthquake early-warning system is coming to California

August 29, 2017

Three years ago a major earthquake rattled the Bay Area. Napa Valley was hit the hardest: 200 people were injured, one person died and the total financial damage in the area was almost a billion dollars.

Barbara and Howard Hornsby stand in front of their new mobile home. Their old one was damaged in the 2014 earthquake.
 - Angela Johnston

It was also the first time an experimental early warning system called Shake Alert notified researchers of a major quake before it actually happened. If researchers secure enough funding, we may have more time to duck, cover and hold on before the next big one.

Read more and listen at KALW

CBS SF Bay Area

Cal Scientists: Wet Winter Weather Triggering Small Earthquakes

June 16, 2017

BERKELEY (KCBS) - The notion of “earthquake weather” may be a myth. But University of California, Berkeley scientists now say California’s wet winters and dry summers may actually trigger more seismic activity.

We’re not talking about the hot muggy heavy air we mistakenly call earthquake weather, but this does have to do with our Mediterranean climate.

Cal researchers looked at nine years of our winters and summers and found that the weight of the rain and snow puts pressure on the Sierra and Coastal mountains. As its runs off and dries out, the Earth’s crust bounces back, tickling the fault lines and triggering quakes.

Chris Johnson is with the Berkeley Seismological Lab and one of the authors of the study published in the Journal Science.

Read more at CBS SF Bay Area

LA Times

After years of planning, California is likely to roll out its earthquake warning system next year

Ariel view of city with text: By next year, Californians could be warned before an earthquake hits

May 22, 2017
Los Angeles Times

California will likely roll out a limited public earthquake early warning system sometime next year, researchers building the network say.

New earthquake sensing stations are being installed in the ground, software is being improved, and operators are being hired to make sure the system is properly staffed, Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson said at a joint meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union and American Geophysical Union.

"Rapid expansion"

The new sensor stations are particularly important for rural Northern California, where gaps in the network have put San Francisco at risk for a slower alert if an earthquake begins on the San Andreas fault near the Oregon border and barrels down to the city. Last summer, California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown approved $10 million for the earthquake early warning system.

"We're starting to add additional stations very rapidly. The contracts are now being signed for the state funding, which is largely being spent on putting out new stations," said Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. "They're going to come online in the next year or so, so there will be pretty rapid expansion of the seismic network over the course of the next six months to two years."

Read the entire article at Los Angeles Times

LA Times

Earthquake early warning system nets $10.2 million in Congress' budget deal

Damage from Napa Quake

May 3, 2017
Los Angeles Times

The budget deal reached in Congress this week penciled in $10.2 million for an earthquake early warning system for California and the rest of the West Coast for the budget year that ends in September.

The funding represents an increase from the last fiscal year’s federal budget, which allocated $8.2 million for the system. The network is being built under the leadership of the U.S. Geological Survey, with development from scientists at Caltech, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and University of Oregon.

Read the entire article at Los Angeles Times

Berkeley News

West Coast rollout of updated 'ShakeAlert' earthquake warning system

April 12th, 2017
Berkeley News

Kids duck under a table in response to an EEW alert drill

The U.S. Geological Survey and its university, state and private partners this week announced the rollout of the latest version of the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system, bringing it to all West Coast states.

A "production prototype" was rolled out in California in 2016. The new version 1.2 extends this to Washington and Oregon, creating a fully integrated ShakeAlert system for the West Coast that can be used for pilot studies of early warning alerts.

An earthquake early warning system can give automated systems and people precious seconds to take protective actions before the severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive, including "drop, cover and hold on." The system does not yet support public warnings, but the new version allows selected early adopters to develop pilot implementations that demonstrate the system's utility and develop technologies that pave the way for broader use.

Read the entire article at Berkeley News