Japan, China, Mexico, Turkey and other countries have built earthquake early warning systems, which can warn people and give them a moment to protect themselves from a potentially deadly quake.
But the United States, oddly, doesn't have such a system - a prototype, ShakeAlert, has been tested in California, but Congress has yet to provide funding to expand it nationwide. Earthquake experts say that for less than $40 million, we could build a reliable U.S. system that would send out alerts on Twitter and Facebook to warn people of impending quakes.
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"We are sure there will be such a system after a big earthquake. We would like to do it before a big earthquake," Doug Given, head of the U.S. Geological Survey's Southern California Earthquake Monitoring project in Pasadena, Calif., told Gannett News Service.
The systems work by watching for seismic P-waves, which have short, fast wavelengths and do little damage, but which are followed usually several seconds later by the longer-wavelength S-waves that knock down buildings and cause landslides.