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Earthquake early warning system can save lives in Southern Europe

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According to a new study led by researchers at University College London (UCL), the Greek and Italian public earthquake early warning systems could give people significant seconds of notification of a major earthquake.


Southeastern Europe is the most seismically active region of the continent, with the most frequent and strongest earthquakes in Greece, Italy and Turkey. Greece and Italy do not currently operate government-sponsored national or regional warning systems. Romania and Turkey are the only European countries that have introduced such a system.

Earthquakes occur regularly, especially in Central Italy, and the most recent earthquakes are a series of earthquakes from 2016 to 2017. The first quake killed nearly 300 people and cost between $ 1 billion and $ 11 billion in August 2016, causing extensive damage to cultural heritage. Buildings and infrastructure.

In the dissertation Nature CommunicationsUCL and Europa-Center for Seismic Engineering Training and Research (EUCENTRE) researchers, earthquake Early warning systems similar to those used in countries such as the United States and Japan can give warning times of 10 seconds or more in various locations throughout Europe.

Earthquake early warning system Sensor network A mathematical model for detecting earthquakes in real time and alerting affected areas before an earthquake occurs. The ability to alert the target site before the tremor begins can buy valuable time to reduce damage, accidents, and deaths, even for just a few seconds. More specifically, users can use this alert time to adopt the widely recommended “drop, cover, hold” action, evacuate dangerous buildings, or move to a safer location within the building. You can move around to reduce the chance of injury or death.

Lead Author Dr. Gemma Cremen (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) [CEGE]), “A national warning system will give people valuable time of a few seconds to mitigate the potential damage of an earthquake. This warning time will stop elevators on the nearest floor or of doors. It enables many kinds of automated actions such as opening. Slow down high speed trains to avoid accidents and derailments, turn red lights, and prevent cars from entering dangerous structures such as bridges and tunnels. Prevent. Shut down the gas pipeline to minimize the risk of fire. “

The author analyzed data from 2,377 sensor stations already installed to determine their location and the time between the first high-speed movement but low amplitude. trembling And the main waves that cause damage and injuries. From this, we calculated the warning time that could occur in various places, the degree of expected shaking, and the number of people affected by the earthquake. This information, along with an estimate of warning accuracy, has led to new indicators of the potential usefulness of early earthquake warnings across Europe.

In order to introduce a large-scale earthquake early warning system, existing sensor stations in Italy and Greece need to be upgraded to enable effective and rapid transmission of relevant information. This information is used to predict the intensity. About the epicenter of an earthquake and how much it causes shaking in a particular area. These predictions are based on the first high-speed wave that passes.

“The most important component of an early earthquake warning system is a high-density network of sensors with a fast and robust communication infrastructure. Thanks to technological advances, many low earthquakes,” said co-author Dr. Elisa Zuccolo (EUCENTRE). By reducing sensor costs and cheaply upgrading existing sensors, we make early warning systems an economically sustainable and highly useful risk mitigation measure. “

Such systems also require thresholds that are set based on the expected level of sway, and alerts are issued when they are exceeded. This avoids unnecessary panic and financial loss with minimal shaking levels and no damage.

Co-lead author Professor Carmine Galasso (UCLCEGE and Scuola Universitaria Superiore IUSS Pavia) said: Warning system There is always some uncertainty due to the real-time process used to estimate the characteristics of earthquakes. For some applications, false alarms can result in significant financial loss and ultimately impact the community.

“There is a complex trade-off between the potential cost of false (and missed alerts) and the available alert time. Predictions improve as the seismic network collects more data on ongoing earthquakes. However, the time to shake at the target site means that this short warning time generally favors automated decisions and mitigation actions. “

Earthquake early warning systems alone are not sufficient to minimize damage. Building codes and standards used for bridges, railroads, and other infrastructure require seismic provisions to ensure sufficient elasticity to withstand shaking. The success of the system also depends on those who are educated about what to do if they receive a warning.

The study was funded by the € 8 million EU project TURNkey, which includes an interdisciplinary team of experts from 21 partner institutions (both universities / research centers and private companies) in 10 European countries.

An important task led by Dr. Cremen and Professor Galasso within the TURNkey project focused on creating a new engineering-led early earthquake warning solution that would provide tangible benefits for short-term disaster-related decision making.

They use pro-risk (engineering) -based forecasts to determine whether early warning alerts for earthquakes need to be triggered against the arrival of an earthquake, taking into account unavoidable malfunctions (ie, false alarms). We have developed a new framework for making decisions. This method can be packaged as a plug-in to existing early earthquake warning platforms around the world, maximizing the potential of early earthquake warning as a reliable tool for promoting seismic resistance.

This approach was applied to a fictitious European school and the port of Gioia Tauro in Italy. This demonstrated the ability of methods to assess optimal risk-informed decisions (ie, whether to trigger early warning of an earthquake) for the arrival of an earthquake. The basis for many uncertainties, including the tolerance of relevant stakeholders to risk.


One step ahead of the earthquake


For more information:
Gemma Cremen et al, Investigation of the Potential Effectiveness of Early Earthquake Warnings throughout Europe, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-27807-2

Quote: The Earthquake Early Warning System was obtained from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-earthquake-early-southern-europe.html on February 8, 2022 in Southern Europe (February 8, 2022). ) May save lives

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Earthquake early warning system can save lives in Southern Europe

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