Early Warning for Geological Disasters

Part of the series Advanced Technologies in Earth Sciences pp 369-379


How Useful is Early Warning and Can It Be Made More Effective?

  • M. WyssAffiliated withWorld Agency for Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction Email author 
  • , F. WenzelAffiliated withGeophysical Institute, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology
  • , J. DaniellAffiliated withGeophysical Institute, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology

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The methods to detect the development of a large earthquake at an early time and to issue an appropriate warning have made great progress. Nevertheless, for population centers at risk, warnings can generally be issued only about 5–10 s before the strong shaking arrives. Systems and facilities that can benefit from a warning with such a short lead time include: Transportation systems, fire departments, medical facilities, schools, industrial plants, petroleum and gas pipelines, elevators, and power plants. However, for the population at home in vulnerable apartment buildings or at work in office buildings and factories that may not have been built following modern codes, the warning is too short for a person to reach a safe place. Although taking cover under a table can protect a person from falling objects, a structurally strong Earthquake Protection Unit (EPU) is required to save lives and limbs in a partially collapsing building. If a culture of earthquake awareness and the knowledge of early warning capabilities were developed, in which strong earthquakes closets could be bought in the lumber yard like tornado shelters, then the fine advances in earthquakes early warning could result in lives saved.