Earthquake detection: It's time to finish the network, researcher says

Kate Moran of Ocean Networks Canada says many of the pieces for a B.C. earthquake detection network are in place, and now is the time to make the detection network denser and more robust.

Many parts in place, but network of detectors needs to get denser, says Kate Moran

Bar graphs shoot to the sky as data comes in from 25 earthquake detectors during December's 4.8-magnitude earthquake. Researcher Kent Johansen's earthquake detectors gave him a 13 second warning of the quake. (Kent Johansen/YouTube)

An ocean researcher says many of the pieces are in place in B.C. for large-scale earthquake detection and alerts, so it's time to get it all up and running.

Ocean Networks Canada executive director Kate Moran says earthquake detectors can give a warning between a few seconds and up to 90 seconds before any shaking is felt. She says that can save lives and infrastructure.

"It's a huge amount of time," she told On The Island host Gregor Craigie about the warnings detectors can provide.

"Some of the important things [that can be done are] … shutting off gas valves, slowing down trains, opening up the doors of fire halls because they could be damaged during an earthquake."

Ocean Networks Canada is involved in detection and alerting through their ocean-floor quake detectors installed on the Juan de Fuca plate and their data processing centre that can rapidly send out warnings when an earthquake happens.

What B.C. needs, Moran says, are more detectors to create a denser network.

"In Taiwan, they have a system and they have detectors every 20 kilometres. That's the Cadillac version, but we could go with a Chevy, probably, and really do an excellent job," she said.

Moran says interest among provincial and federal partners is high for better earthquake detection, and Ocean Networks is even reaching out to the states of Washington and Oregon to see if they would be part of a larger detection network.

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: B.C. needs earthquake detection now, Victoria researcher says


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