The USGS just gave out $5 million in additional funding for the ShakeAlert system along the US West Coast. ShakeAlert is a system that is designed to alert the public in the event of a major earthquake. It detects the initial seismic waves and sends out an alert to the public before the strongest seismic waves can do any damage. This system may only give people a few seconds notice of a nearby major earthquake, but it may be enough time for people to get to a safer place. However, officials are hopeful that it may give several minutes notice to major cities like Seattle and Portland in the event of the Cascadia megaquake.
This new comes days after the New Yorker published an article about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and how this tectonically active zone could produce a major earthquake and cause much damage for the US Pacific Northwest.
The ShakeAlert system in California detected the magnitude 6 earthquake in Napa last year and provided a 9-second warning for San Francisco. Japan has a similar alert system which halts bullet trains, alerts hospitals and schools, and sends warnings to cell phones.