California’s new early warning earthquake app SHAKES as it counts down the seconds to significant tremors so that users have enough time to drop, cover and hold
- QuakeAlertUSA is available free of charge to smartphones users in California
- The app uses data from government earthquake sensors to calculate the time until a 4-magnitude or higher tremor is expected to hit
- QuakeAlertUSA shakes the user’s smartphone and activates a timer counting down the seconds until impact so that they are able to find cover
- The app comes amid fears that California is set to experience a devastating earthquake in the near future
A new app warning users of impending earthquakes by shaking their smartphones has been rolled out in California.
QuakeAlertUSA is now available for free on iOS and Android phones for those in the Golden State, where seismologists say a ‘ground-rupturing’ quake is well overdue.
The app has been created by Early Warning Labs and uses data from hundreds of earthquake sensors set up across California by the government’s US Geological Survey.
Once the US Geological Survey determines the size and whereabouts of a quake, the app is instantly able to calculate the exact amount of time until its user will feel the impact – so long as the location settings are activated on their smartphone.
The user’s phone will then shake (or vibrate) and begin counting down the seconds until the quake hits, allowing them time to prepare and take cover.
Users are able to modify the app to decide whether they want to be alerted to weak, light or moderate quakes.
Weak earthquakes, classified as Level III on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, measure 4-magnitude on the Richter scale.
The app does not send alerts for quakes of a lower intensity as they largely go unnoticed.
QuakeAlertUSA is now available for free on iOS and Android phones for those in the Golden State, where seismologists say a ‘ground-rupturing’ quake is well overdue
The app has been created by Early Warning Labs and uses data from hundreds of earthquake sensors set up across California by the government’s US Geological Survey
QuakeAlertUSA says it is able to send alerts up to a minute out from when users will begin to feel shaking
HOW QUAKE ALERT USA APP WORKS
Users who purchase the app are able to choose which type of quakes they want to be alerted to – weak, light or moderate
QuakeAlertUSA then relies on data from earthquake sensors set up by the government’s US Geological Survey
The sensors immediately send an alert to QuakeAlertUSA when a tremor is expected to be M4 or higher
The app uses technology to immediately calculate how far an individual user is from the site of impact
The app is then able to calculate the time until the individual user feels tremors from the quake
The user’s phone then shakes and a countdown timer is activated allowing them to take cover
According to the US Geological Survey;s classifications, weak (or Level III) earthquakes are ‘felt noticeably by people indoors, with vibrations similar to that of a close passing truck’.
Light (Level IV) earthquakes disturb dishes, windows and doors, and may possibly cause cracks in plaster.
Meanwhile, a moderate (Level V) quake causes windows to break and unstable objects to overturn. Sleepers are often awakened by the tremors.
QuakeAlertUSA says it is able to send alerts up to a minute out from when users will begin to feel shaking.
The app is advertised on the iTunes store alongside an imaginary scenario which allows users to fully comprehend its practical benefit.
‘Imagine it’s a typical Friday afternoon. You look out of your office window over the San Francisco Bay to see the brilliant colors of the sunset. What you don’t see 131 miles away, under the ocean floor near Monterey, is a rupturing San Gregorio fault sending out its first wave,’ the promo states.
‘This quick-moving, usually non-harmful ‘P-wave’ is detected by sensors managed by the USGS. The slower, more damaging S-waves are to come next. This data is immediately transmitted to the United States Geological Survey where the location & size of the quake are determined. The Early Warning Labs cloud server calculates the individual alerts for all users with personalized time to shaking and intensity.
Once the US Geological Survey determines the size and whereabouts of a quake, the app is instantly able to calculate the exact amount of time until its user will feel the impact, as long as the location settings are activated on their smartphone
A Los Angeles freeway is pictured in the aftermath of a magnitude 6.6 quake in January 1994
Despite its recent roll-out, QuakeAlertUSA has already been met with rave reviews from users.
One satisfied customer wrote: ‘A truly potentially life-saving app! Having lived in earthquake country for 33 years and been through my fair share of them, nothing is worse than being taken by surprise! Sudden shaking is terrifying! This app alleviates that fear by forewarning you to a shaker! It gives you power back, when you feel you have none. Depending on how close and strong the quake is, you’ll still get enough warning to make some vital decisions.’
Meanwhile, the US Geological Survey reports that earthquakes cause an average annual damage bill of $3.7 billion in California alone.
However, CBS reports that seismologists say that the state is actually in an ‘earthquake drought’ meaning they could be in for a number of very large quakes in the near future.
The aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco in October 1989
‘Hidden’ fault line directly under Los Angeles threatens a devastating magnitude 7.4 earthquake
A fault line, long believed to be dormant underneath Los Angeles, could link with others and cause a major magnitude 7.4 quake, according to a report published in September 2019.
The ‘Wilmington Fault,’ was so deep below the Earth’s surface that it was difficult to study, but researchers from Harvard, the USC and the US Geological Survey last year imputed a ‘cluster of clues’ into a three-dimensional model that revealed activity not previously detected.
Research indicates that the Wilmington Fault is usually supposed to rupture every 3,200 to 4,700 years – however it has been dormant now for millions of years.
There are fears for the communities of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are built on the Wilmington Fault.
‘I hope bringing attention to it can potentially increase safety in the region,’ study author Franklin Wolfe, a doctoral candidate who is part of Harvard’s structural geology and Earth resources group, said at the time of publication.