Interest in the concept of “early warning” for earthquakes is increasing rapidly. The Japanese announced their version of a public system last fall. In the United States, algorithms are being developed and tests formulated to assess earthquake early warning systems in order to determine their relative merits and help improve their speed and reliability. At last fall's American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting there were no fewer than 40 papers devoted to technical aspects of earthquake early warning. The simple concept of detecting a large earthquake soon enough after its origin to warn distant communities before strong shaking begins is easy...

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