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Benefits and costs of earthquake early warning

Jennifer A. Strauss and Richard M. Allen
Benefits and costs of earthquake early warning
Seismological Research Letters (March 2016) 87 (3): 765-772


Earthquake early warning (EEW) is the rapid detection of earthquakes underway and the alerting of people and infrastructure in harms way. Public warning systems are now operational in Mexico and Japan, and smaller-scale systems deliver alerts to specific users in Turkey, Taiwan, China, Romania, and the United States. The warnings can arrive seconds to minutes before strong shaking, and a review of early warning applications around the world shows this time can be used to reduce the impact of an earthquake by many sectors of society. Individuals can use the alert time to drop, cover, and hold on, reducing injuries and fatalities, or if alert time allows, evacuate hazardous buildings. Train derailments can be reduced, chemical splits limited, patients in hospitals protected, fire ignitions prevented; workers in hazardous environments protected from fall/pinch hazards, reducing head injuries and/or death. It is impossible to complete an exhaustive list of applications and savings generated by a warning system in the United States, but the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. Three lives saved, two semiconductor plants warned, one Bay Area Rapid Transit train slowed, a 1% reduction in nonfatal injuries, and a 0.25% avoidance of gas-related fire damage would each save enough money to pay for 1 year of operation of a public warning system for the entire U.S. West Coast. EEW could also reduce the number of injuries in earthquakes by more than 50%.

ISSN: 0895-0695
EISSN: 1938-2057
Serial Title: Seismological Research Letters
Serial Volume: 87
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Benefits and costs of earthquake early warning
Affiliation: University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States
Pages: 765-772
Published: 20160323
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, El Cerrito, CA, United States
References: 50
Accession Number: 2016-034666
Categories: Seismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201617
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