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In Brief

California's Earthquake Early Warning System Advances

A prototype user interface for a California earthquake early warning system.
A prototype user interface for a California earthquake early warning system. (Image credit: Caltech)

The country's first early warning system for earthquakes inched a step closer toward reality today (April 9).

California's Senate Governmental Organization Committee today passed a bill funding a statewide early warning system, the first hurdle in bringing the legislation before the full state Senate. The technology already exists to alert hospitals, trains, nuclear plants and anyone with a phone app of incoming earthquake waves, but scientists need about $80 million to debug the software and install more earthquake monitors statewide.

On March 11, the prototype warning network alerted scientists at Caltech in Pasadena 35 seconds in advance before shaking arrived from a magnitude-4.7 earthquake that struck in the desert east of Los Angeles.

Read more: ShakeAlert

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Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.