USA. Department of Interior contracts Synergetics to assist with earthquake monitoring systems

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Synergetics has been contracted by the Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, to perform scientific research for The Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), which is a major national initiative that serves the needs of the earthquake monitoring, engineering, and research communities as well as national, state, and local governments, emergency response organizations, and the general public. When fully operational, the ANSS will be an advanced monitoring system (modern digital seismographs and accelerographs, communications networks, data collection and processing centers, archival and alert systems, and well-trained personnel) distributed across the United States. The ANSS is a National resource that operates with high performance standards, gathers critical technical data, and effectively provides timely and reliable earthquake products, information, and services to meet the Nation's needs. The ANSS will automatically broadcast timely and authoritative alerts describing the occurrence of earthquakes, earthquake source properties, the distribution of ground shaking, and, where feasible, broadcast early warnings and alerts for the onset of strong ground shaking. Most importantly, the ANSS will provide earthquake data, derived products, and information to the public, emergency responders, officials, engineers, educators, researchers, and other ANSS partners rapidly and in forms that are useful for their needs.

Synergetics personnel are assigned to help develop The PAGER (Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response) system which is an automatic system to estimate human impact following significant Earthquakes. The work is being performed at the U.S. Geological Surveys National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) which reports over 30,000 earthquakes a year. Tragically, on average, 25 of these cause significant damage, injuries, or fatalities. The USGS often detects these damaging quakes well before eyewitness reports are available and must rapidly decide if Federal and international agencies should be alerted of a potentially damaging event. Currently, the USGS primarily relies on the experience and intuition of the on duty seismologists to estimate the impact of an event. To improve the accuracy of this assessment and the content of the USGS earthquake alerts, the USGS is developing the PAGER system to estimate human impact immediately following global earthquakes.

The PAGER system will provide important information to help emergency relief organizations, government agencies, and the media plan their response to earthquake disasters. PAGER will distribute alarms via pager, mobile phone, and e-mail that will include a concise estimate of impact: red for severe, yellow for moderate, and green for little or no impact. The alarms will also report the earthquake location, magnitude, depth, an estimate of the number of people exposed to varying levels of shaking, a description of the regions fragility, and a measure of confidence in the systems impact assessment. Associated maps of shaking level, population density, and susceptibility to landslides will be posted on the Internet. This information will be available within minutes of the determination of the earthquake location and magnitude. Earthquake solutions are generally available within the hour for significant events and improvements to the realtime earthquake detection system will decrease the response time to as little as fifteen minutes.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 November 2006 )