Abstract

The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system is designed to automatically identify and characterize the initiation and rupture evolution of large earthquakes, estimate the intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver alerts to people and systems that may experience shaking, prior to the occurrence of shaking at their location. It is configured to issue alerts to locations within the West Coast of the United States. In 2018, ShakeAlert 2.0 went live in a regional public test in the first phase of a general public rollout. The ShakeAlert system is now providing alerts to more than 60 institutional partners in the three states of the western United States where most of the nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated: California, Oregon, and Washington. The ShakeAlert 2.0 product for public alerting is a message containing a polygon enclosing a region predicted to experience modified Mercalli intensity (MMI) threshold levels that depend on the delivery method. Wireless Emergency Alerts are delivered for M 5+ earthquakes with expected shaking of MMIIV. For cell phone apps, the thresholds are M 4.5+ and MMIIII. A polygon format alert is the easiest description for selective rebroadcasting mechanisms (e.g., cell towers) and is a requirement for some mass notification systems such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. ShakeAlert 2.0 was tested using historic waveform data consisting of 60 M 3.5+ and 25 M 5.0+ earthquakes, in addition to other anomalous waveforms such as calibration signals. For the historic event test, the average M 5+ false alert and missed event rates for ShakeAlert 2.0 are 8% and 16%. The M 3.5+ false alert and missed event rates are 10% and 36.7%. Real‐time performance metrics are also presented to assess how the system behaves in regions that are well‐instrumented, sparsely instrumented, and for offshore earthquakes.

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