Most of existing earthquake early‐warning systems are regional or on‐site systems. A new concept is the integration of these approaches for the definition of alert levels and the estimation of the earthquake potential damage zone (PDZ). The key element of the method is the real‐time, simultaneous measurement of initial peak displacement (Pd) and period parameter (τc) in a 3‐s window after the first P‐wave arrival time at accelerometer stations located at increasing distances from the epicenter. As for the on‐site approach, the recorded values of Pd and τc are compared to threshold values, which are set for a minimum magnitude M 6 and instrumental intensity IMM VII, according to empirical regression analysis of strong‐motion data from different seismic regions. At each recording site the alert level is assigned based on a decisional table with four entries defined by threshold values of the parameters Pd and τc. A regional network of stations provides the event location and transmits the information about the alert levels recorded at near‐source stations to more distant sites, before the arrival of the most destructive phase.

We present the results of performance tests of this method using ten M>6 Japanese earthquakes that occurred in the period 2000–2009 and propose a very robust methodology for mapping the PDZ in the first seconds after a moderate‐to‐large earthquake. The studied cases displayed a very good matching between the rapidly predicted earthquake PDZ inferred from initial P‐peak displacement amplitudes and the instrumental intensity map, the latter being mapped after the event, using peak ground velocity and/or acceleration, or from field macroseismic surveys.

Online Material: Animated GIF files of simulations of the threshold‐based method.

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