California earthquake warning system still in infancy

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How well would Southern California's buildings hold up if they were rocked by a massive earthquake like the recent temblor in Nepal? (KABC)

How well would Southern California's buildings hold up if they were rocked by a massive earthquake like the recent temblor in Nepal? That's what a group of leading earthquake experts discussed Friday during a meeting at Caltech.

The group, known as the Earthquake Research Affiliate, discussed the continued development of the West Coast's early warning system, known as ShakeAlert, which they note is still in its infancy despite its importance.

"The system is improving over time and we are building things out, but we are limited by resources, which is a fancy way of saying cash," said Doug Given with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Given notes that more funding is starting to reach the ShakeAlert program, including $5 million from the federal government.

About $1 million worth of equipment is slated to be installed across the three West Coast states. Given says a more advanced prototype of the earthquake early warning system will be deployed this summer.

But when it comes to financial support from California, there hasn't been any, Given said.

Although the alert system's warnings may come just seconds ahead of the shaking, experts say it could be enough time to clear of elevators, stop trains and shut down bridges.

"They don't have such a system in Nepal. That's unfortunate and perhaps they should," Simons said.

Related Topics:
scienceearthquakeCaltechUSGSPasadenaLos Angeles County
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