Imminent Warning Communication: Earthquake Early Warning and Short-Term Forecasting in Japan and the US

  • James D. GoltzEmail author
  • Evelyn Roeloffs
Part of the Integrated Disaster Risk Management book series (IDRM)


The ability of scientists to warn communities of the occurrence of potentially damaging earthquakes is evolving, though accurate prediction of the time, location, and magnitude of such earthquakes remains a distant goal. Anticipation of major earthquakes has taken the form of long-term forecasts, earthquake hazard mapping, and scenario development accompanied by societal impact assessments based on loss estimation methodologies. More recently, earthquake early warning systems (EEW), pioneered and first implemented in Japan, facilitated the communication of very short-term alerts that ground motion from an earthquake would arrive in a matter of seconds to tens of seconds. Currently, a nationwide EEW system exists only in Japan, but regional systems are becoming available in many earthquake vulnerable nations, including the US. A second means of anticipating an earthquake is operational earthquake forecasting (OEF) based on the occurrence of seismic activity of various kinds that raises the short-term probability that additional earthquakes, including damaging earthquakes, could occur in hours to a few days. OEF has been implemented in the US and has its most vocal champions among American scientists. These two means of anticipating potentially damaging earthquakes and the communication of information to communities at risk are the subject of this chapter.


Earthquakes Early warning Short-term forecasts Japan United States Warning 


  1. Agnew DC, Jones LM (1991) Prediction probabilities from foreshocks. J Geophys Res 96:11959–11971CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen RM, Gasparini P, Kamigaichi O, Böse M (2009) The status of earthquake early warning around the world: an introductory overview. Seismol Res Lett 80(5)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen RM, Given DD, Heaton TH, Vidale JE (2014) Successful ShakeAlert performance for the Napa quake, Abstract S44D-01 presented at 2014 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, Calif., 15–19 DecemberGoogle Scholar
  4. Bakun WH, Aagaard B, Dost B, Ellsworth WL, Hardebeck JL, Harris RA, Ji C, Johnston MJS, Langbein J, Lienkaemper JJ, Michael AJ et al (2005) Implications for prediction and hazard assessment from the 2004 Parkfield earthquake. Nature 437(7061):969–974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bakun WH, Lindh AG (1985) The Parkfield, California, earthquake prediction experiment. Science 229:619–624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bakun WH, Fischer FG, Jensen EG, VanSchaack J (1994) Early warning system for aftershocks. Bull Seismol Soc Am 84(2):359–365Google Scholar
  7. Bay Area Rapid Transit District (2017, October 18) BART to participate in the Great California ShakeOut 2017. News ReleaseGoogle Scholar
  8. Bolt Bruce (2006) Earthquakes: 2006 centennial update, 5th edn. Freeman, W.HGoogle Scholar
  9. Böse M, Allen R, Brown H, Gua G, Fischer M, Hauksson E, Heaten T, Hellweg M, Liukis M, Neuhauser D, Maechling P (2014) CISN ShakeAlert: an earthquake early warning demonstration system for California. Early warning for geological disasters. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 49–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cauzzi C, Behr Y, Le Guenan T, Douglas J, Auclair S, Woessner J, Clinton J, Wiemer S (2016) Earthquake early warning and operational earthquake forecasting as real-time hazard information to mitigate seismic risk at nuclear facilities. Bull Earthq Eng 14(9):2495–2512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Doughton S (2017, April 10) Earthquake early-warning system comes to Washington—but it’s not for the public yet, Seattle Times.
  12. Field EH (2007) A summary of previous working groups on California earthquake probabilities. Bull Seismol Soc Am 97(4):1033–1053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Field EH, Arrowsmith RJ, Biasi GP, Bird P, Dawson TE, Felzer KR, Jackson DD, Johnson KM, Jordan TH, Madden C, Michael AJ (2014) Uniform California earthquake rupture forecast, version 3 (UCERF3)—The time-independent model. Bull Seismol Soc Am 104(3):1122–1180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Field EH, Biasi GP, Bird P, Dawson TE, Felzer KR, Jackson DD, Johnson KM, Jordan TH, Madden C, Michael AJ, Milner KR (2015) Long-term time-dependent probabilities for the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3). Bull Seismol Soc Am 105(2A):511–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Field EH, Milner KR, Hardebeck JL, Page MT, van der Elst N, Jordan TH, Michael AJ, Shaw BE, Werner MJ (2017) A spatiotemporal clustering model for the Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3-ETAS): toward an operational earthquake forecast. Bull Seismol Soc Am 107(3):1049–1081CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Field EH, Jordan TH, Jones LM, Michael AJ, Blanpied ML, Other Workshop Participants (2016) The potential uses of operational earthquake forecasting. Seismol Res Lett 87(2A)
  17. Frankel A, Chen R, Petersen M, Moschetti M, Sherrod B (2015) 2014 Update of the Pacific Northwest portion of the US National Seismic Hazard Maps. Earthq Spectra 31(S1):S131–S148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fujinawa Y, Noda Y (2013) Japan’s earthquake early warning system on 11 March 2011: performance, shortcomings, and changes. Earthq Spectra 29(S1):S341–S368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Geller RJ (2011) Shake-up time for Japanese seismology. Nature 472:407–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gerstenberger MC, Wiemer S, Jones LM, Reasenberg PL (2005) Real-time forecasts of tomorrow’s earthquakes in California. Nature 435(7040):328–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Given DD, Cochran ES, Heaton T, Hauksson E, Allen R, Hellweg P, Vidale J, Bodin P (2014) Technical implementation plan for the ShakeAlert production system—an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1097, p 25.
  22. Goltz JD (2003) Applications for new real-time seismic information: the TriNet project in Southern California. Seismol Res Lett 4(5):516–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goltz JD (2015) A further note on operational earthquake forecasting: an emergency management perspective. Seismol Res Lett 86(5). Scholar
  24. Gomberg J, Atwater B, Beeler N, Bodin P, Davis E, Frankel A, Hayes G, McConnell V, Melbourne T, Oppenheimer D, Parrish J and others (2015) Earthquake forewarning in the Cascadia region. US Geological Survey Open-File Report, 1151(8)Google Scholar
  25. Grapenthin R, Johanson I, Allen RM (2014) The 2014 Mw6.0 Napa earthquake, California: observations from real-time GPS-enhanced earthquake early warning. Geophys Res Lett 41:8269–8276. Scholar
  26. Hall SS (2011) At Fault? Nature 477:264–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hartog JR, Kress VC, Malone SD, Bodin P, Vidale JE, Crowell BW (2016) Earthquake early warning: ShakeAlert in the Pacific Northwest. Bull Seismol Soc Am 106(4):1875–1886CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hayes G, Meyers EK, Dewey JW, Briggs RW (2017) Tectonic summaries of magnitude 7 and greater earthquakes from 2000 to 2015. USGS Open-File Report, 2016–1192Google Scholar
  29. Heaton TH, Series N, May N (1985) A model for a seismic computerized alert network. Science 228:987–990CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hickey H (2017, April 10) USGS, partners launch a unified, West Coast-wide earthquake early warning system, University of Washington NewsGoogle Scholar
  31. Holden R, Reichle M, Lee R (1989) Technical and economic feasibility of an earthquake warning system in California (Special Publication 101, California Division of Mines and Geology)Google Scholar
  32. Japan Meteorological Agency (2012) Results of the survey on the utilization of emergency earthquake information. (in Japanese)
  33. Japan Meteorological Agency (2013) Lessons learned from the tsunami disaster caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and improvements in JMA’s Tsunami warning system.
  34. Japan Meteorological Agency (First Observed 2017) Emergency warning system: a new service to protect life, (Emergency_Warning_System).pdf
  35. Japan Meteorological Agency (2016) On the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake (the 39th report) (press release).
  36. Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (2014) Booklet of best practices of resilient ICT systems in Japan.
  37. Japan Times (2016, July 7) Don’t rely on quake predictions, EditorialGoogle Scholar
  38. Japan Times (2017, November 5) Anticipating a major Nankai Trough quake, EditorialGoogle Scholar
  39. Jones LM (1985) Foreshocks and time-dependent earthquake hazard assessment in southern California. Buletin Seismol Soc Am 75:1669–1679Google Scholar
  40. Jordan TH, Jones LM (2010) Operational earthquake forecasting: some thoughts on why and how. Seismol Res Lett 81:571–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jordan TH, Marzocchi W, Michael AJ, Gerstenberger MC (2014) Operational earthquake forecasting can enhance earthquake preparedness. Seismol Res Lett 85(5):955–959CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jordan TH, Chen YT, Gasparini P, Maderiaga R, Main I, Marzocchi W, Papadopoulos G, Sobolev G, Yamaoaka K, Zschau J (2011) Operational earthquake forecasting: state of knowledge and guidelines for implementation: final report of the international commission on earthquake forecasting for civil protection. Ann Geophys 54(4):315–391. Scholar
  43. Jordan TH (2013) Lessons of L’Aquila for operational earthquake forecasting. Seismol Res Lett 84(1). Scholar
  44. Kamiyama M, Sugito M, Kuse M (2012) Precursor of crustal movements before the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. In: Proceedings of the international symposium on engineering lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, March 1–4 2012, Tokyo, JapanGoogle Scholar
  45. Kodera Y, Saitou J, Hayashimoto N, Adachi S, Morimoto M, Nishimae Y (2016) Earthquake early warning for the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake: performance evaluation of the current system and the next generation methods of the Japan Meteorological Agency. Earth, Planets and Space 68:202. Scholar
  46. Kohler MD, Cochran ES, Given D, Guiwits S, Neuhauser D, Henson I, Hartog R, Bodin P, Kress V, Thompson S, Felizardo C, Brody J, Bhadha R, Schwarz S (2017) Earthquake early warning ShakeAlert system: West Coast wide production prototype. Seismol Res Lett 89(1):99–107. Scholar
  47. Llenos AL, Michael AJ (2013) Modeling earthquake rate changes in Oklahoma and Arkansas: possible signatures of induced seismicity. Bull Seismol Soc Am 103(5):2850–2861CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Marzocchi W, Lombardi AM, Casarotti E (2014) The establishment of an operational earthquake forecasting system in Italy. Seismol Res Lett 85(5):961–969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mavrommatis AP, Segall P, Johnson KM (2014) A decadal-scale deformation transient prior to the 2011 Mw 9.0 Tohoku-oki earthquake. Geophys Res Lett 41:4486–4494. Scholar
  50. Michael AJ, Field EH, Hardebeck J, Llenos AL, Milner KR, Page MT, Perry SC, van der Elst N, Wein AM (2016) Aftershock forecasting: recent developments and lessons from the 2016 M5.8 Pawnee, Oklahoma earthquake, Abstract S51E-3172 presented at 2016 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, Calif., 12–16 DecemberGoogle Scholar
  51. Mileti D, Sorensen J (1990) Communication of emergency public warnings, ORNL-6609. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TennesseeGoogle Scholar
  52. Mileti DS, Fitzpatrick C, Farhar BC (1992) Fostering public preparations for natural hazards: lessons from the Parkfield earthquake prediction. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 34(3):16–39Google Scholar
  53. Mileti DS (1999) Disasters by design: a reassessment of natural hazards in the United States. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  54. Miyazaki SI, McGuire JJ, Segall P (2011) Seismic and aseismic fault slip before and during the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake. Earth, Planets Space 63(7):23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Musson RM, Cecić I (2012) Intensity and intensity scales. New Man Seism Obs Pract 2:1–41Google Scholar
  56. Nakashima T, Okada S, Shinoda A (2017) The importance of seismic death risk assessment of households in the Kumamoto earthquake of 2016. J Disaster Res 12(6):1151–1160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nanjo KZ, Tsuruoka H, Yokoi S, Ogata Y, Falcone G, Hirata N, Schorlemmer D (2012) Predictability study on the aftershock sequence following the 2011 Tohoku-Oki, Japan, earthquake: first results. Geophys J Int 191(2):653–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. National Institute of Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) (2012) Seismograph Networks (Hi-net, F-net, Kik-net).
  59. Ogata Y (1988) Statistical models for earthquake occurrences and residual analysis for point processes. J Am Stat Assoc 83:9–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ogata Y (1998) Space-time point-process models for earthquake occurrences. Ann Inst Stat Math 50(2):379–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ogata Y, Zhuang J (2006) Space–time ETAS models and an improved extension. Tectonophysics 413(1):13–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ohara M, Meguro K, Tanaka A (2011) Survey on people’s awareness of earthquake early warning before and after the 2011 Off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake. In: Proceedings of the 10th international symposium on new technologies for urban safety of mega cities in Asia, Chiang Mai, Thailand, October 2011, 163–171Google Scholar
  63. Page MT, Van Der Elst N, Hardebeck J, Felzer K Michael AJ (2016) Three ingredients for improved global aftershock forecasts: Tectonic region, time‐dependent catalog incompleteness, and intersequence variability. Bulletin Seismol Soc Am 106(5). Scholar
  64. Prado M (2016, September 24) Bay Area earthquake probabilities increase, updated USGS forecast says, The Mercury News, Accessed 8 Jan 2018
  65. Reasenberg PA (1999) Foreshock occurrence before large earthquakes. J Geophys Res Solid Earth 104(B3):4755–4768CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reasenberg PA, Jones LM (1989) Earthquake hazard after a mainshock in California. Science 243:1173–1176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Reasenberg PA, Jones LM (1994) Earthquake aftershocks: update. Science 265:1251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rhoades DA, Liukis M, Christophersen A, Gerstenberger MC (2016) Retrospective tests of hybrid operational earthquake forecasting models for Canterbury. Geophys J Int 204(1):440–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Richter CF (1958) Elementary seismology. W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco and London, viii+768 ppGoogle Scholar
  70. Rikitake T (1979) The large-scale earthquake countermeasures act and the earthquake prediction council in Japan. EOS Trans AGU 60(32):553–555. Scholar
  71. Roeloffs E, Goltz J (2017) The California earthquake advisory plan: Aa history. Seismol Res Lett 88(3). Scholar
  72. Roeloffs E, Langbein J (1994) The earthquake prediction experiment at Parkfield. California Rev Geophys 32(3):315–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Segall P, Bradley AM (2012) Slow‐slip evolves into megathrust earthquakes in 2D numerical simulations. Geophys Res Lett 39(18).
  74. Stover CW, Coffman JL (1993) Seismicity of the United States, 1568–1989 (Revised). United States geological survey professional paper 1527, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.CGoogle Scholar
  75. Strader A, Schneider M, Schorlemmer D (2017) Prospective and retrospective evaluation of five-year earthquake forecast models for California. Geophys J Int 211(1):239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Uehira K, Kanazawa T, Mochizuki M, Fujimoto H, Noguchi S, Shimbo T, Shiomi K, Kunugi K, Aoi S, Matsumoto T, Sekiguchi S, Okada Y, Shinohara M, Yamada T (2015) Outline of seafloor observation network for Earthquakes and Tsunamis along the Japan Trench (S-net). EGU General Assembly 2016(EGU2016-13832):2016Google Scholar
  77. Umeda S (2013) Japan: legal responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, The Law Library of Congress, Global Legal Research Center (September), law@loc.govGoogle Scholar
  78. United States Geological Survey (2016) ShakeAlert,
  79. Wallace RE, Scott S (1999) Connection: the EERI Oral History Series, Robert E. Wallace, Accessed 4 Jan 2018)
  80. Wang K, Rogers GC (2014) Earthquake preparedness should not fluctuate on a daily or weekly basis. Seismol Res Lett 85:569–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wein A, Becker J (2013) Communicating aftershock risk: Roles for reassuring the public, Risk Frontiers 13.
  82. Wood HO, Neumann F (1931) Modified Mercalli intensity scale of 1931. Bull Seismol Soc Am 21(4):277–283Google Scholar
  83. Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP) (1988) Probabilities of large earthquakes occurring in California on the San Andreas fault. U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 88-398, 62Google Scholar
  84. Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP) (1990) Probabilities of large earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Region, California. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1053, 51Google Scholar
  85. Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP) (D. D. Jackson, K. Aki, C. A. Cornell, J. H. Dieterich, T. L. Henyey, M. Mahdyiar, D. Schwartz, S. N. Ward) (1995) Seismic hazards in southern California: probable earthquakes, 1994–2024. Bull Seismol Soc Am 85:379–439Google Scholar
  86. Zechar JD, Schorlemmer D, Liukis M, Yu J, Euchner F, Maechling PJ, Jordan TH (2010) The collaboratory for the study of earthquake predictability perspective on computational earthquake science. Concurr Comput Pract Exp 22(12):1836–1847CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.United States Geological Survey, Earthquake Science CenterVancouverUSA

Personalised recommendations