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Save Me San Francisco (From Earthquakes)

When touring the Golden Gate Bridge or taking a train to work, the last thing people want as they close out their summer is a natural disaster. And even if it doesn’t happen, don’t you want to make sure that you and the people you care about are safe? You’re in luck because next time you visit the city by the bay you’ll notice a new warning system for earthquakes.

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system team up with the University of California-Berkeley’s Seismology Laboratory to come up with a warning system that will automatically halt trains in their tracks (literally) when a quake strikes the City by the Bay. This new safety technology allows trains to stop tens of seconds to minutes before an earthquake so the passengers are safe as the ground starts to shake. Put into motion in August 2012, the new system provides new electronic warning signals to over 200 stations in the Northern California region.

These electronic warning signals are sent to the stations from seismic stations, and the researchers say that these specific wavelengths travel at a quicker pace than seismic waves themselves. These signals also help people outside of the Bay Area be notified of quakes. Outside of the San Francisco area, the data gives BART’s central computer system advanced warning that seismic activity’s about to occur; the farther the earthquake is away from San Francisco, the more time the high-speed trains have to stop from their top speeds of 70 miles-per-hour. The response is even faster if it’s inside San Francisco.

“The earthquake early warning system will enable BART to stop trains before earthquake shaking starts, and thereby prevent derailment and save passengers from potential injuries,” said BART Board President John McPartland. “We are the first transit agency in the United States to provide this early warning and intervention.”

The new warning system should be welcomed with open arms to the area which is prone to earthquakes and it gives the Northern California region another vital resource to provide awareness in addition to prevent injuries.

Image Credit: Earthquake via Shutterstock

by Scott Sincoff

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