Research Press Release

Geoscience: Effectiveness of an earthquake warning system for Europe assessed

Nature Communications

February 9, 2022

The potential effectiveness of an earthquake early warning (EEW) system for Europe is assessed in a Nature Communications paper. The findings indicate that parts of the Euro-Mediterranean region, particularly Greece, Turkey and Italy, could benefit from EEW to mitigate the potentially detrimental effects of earthquakes.

EEW consists of sensor networks and mathematical models to detect earthquakes in real-time, and warns affected areas before ground shaking commences. The ability to warn target sites before tremors begin, even if only by a few seconds, can buy valuable time to reduce damage, accidents and fatalities. Regional EEW systems are currently operating in nine countries including the USA, Mexico, and Japan. However, the only European countries with current government-supported operational EEW systems are Romania and Turkey.

To investigate the feasibility of EEW in the Euro-Mediterranean region, Gemma Cremen and colleagues analysed data from 2,377 sensor stations and EEW lead times in this region — the time between an initial EEW alert and tremors beginning at the target sites. The authors suggest that in some circumstances affected populations could gain over 10 seconds of lead time, enabling them to carry out major preventive actions, such as shutting down industrial equipment or potentially evacuating the ground floors of buildings.

The authors conclude that under certain conditions their findings indicate the potential effectiveness of EEW in certain European regions.


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