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Government Testing Earthquake Warning System In California

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PASADENA (CBS) — An earthquake warning system could be just $80 million away for California.

The U.S. government has been testing an early alert system since February that was developed by the California Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley.

As KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports, if it works, the system could be used to warn the public.

Scientists with the US Geological Survey and Caltech currently have a prototype system up and running. “ShakeAlert” is set up to send warnings about quakes to the computers of 30 researchers across California.

“About everyday I get between five and ten of these,” researcher Elizabeth Cochran said.

Cochran says the system being developed would not give any warning if a quake hit under you, but could provide time to reach cover if it was far enough away.

“If an earthquake were to start down near the Salton Sea, LA would get about up to 60 seconds of warning,” Cochran added.

Officials say $80 million is needed to test, develop and place enough sensors around the state to effectively detect the energy waves generated by quakes. Researchers hope that the system will be able to broadcast alerts on TV, radio and other mediums in the future.

A similar $500 million system is already in place in Japan. The public alert system was credited with saving lives during March’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

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