Earthquake prediction and warning is an evolving technology, which is going to significantly contribute to civil and property protection. The possibility to have an actual early warning earthquake system is now closer to reality, thanks to a collaboration between USGS and a small start up company in the Golden State.
"Earthquake. Earthquake. Shaking to begin in ...15 seconds". The particular message preceded by a siren is going to warn people in a group of trial public and private institutions of an imminent earthquake. The specialized software, developed by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based in University of Washington, will be installed in their computers and is the first earthquake early warning system tested outside the research community in the region.
Simulations assessing how the system would have responded to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake show that a tsunami alarm would have been raised in 7 minutes or less, thus might had saved many of the 22,000 killed by the massive tsunami that followed the earthquake.
The recent magnitude 6.0 earthquake that jolted Napa Valley has caused extensive damage to wineries and properties and has particularly highlighted the need for an early warning system in the state of California. Reportedly, even a few seconds warning before the occurrence of a seismic event could have a significant impact on lowering the devasting consequences of a temblor.