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Science

An Early Warning System For Earthquakes 147

Iphtashu Fitz writes "Would 15 seconds be enough warning time to prepare for an earthquake? It certainly wouldn't be long enough to evacuate from where you live, but it may be just long enough to get out of a building or brace yourself in a doorframe or under a solid desk. Italian scientists may have discovered a way to measure the initial shockwave of an earthquake two seconds after it starts, and from it predict the extent of the destructive secondary wave that will follow. It typically takes twenty seconds for the secondary wave to spread 40 miles, so sensors that can transmit warnings at the speed of light may provide just enough warning before a major quake for people to brace themselves. Even more importantly, such a warning could allow for utilities like gas companies to close safety valves, preventing potential fires or explosions in the aftermath of the quake."

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