India to Join 27-Nation Club to Set Up Early Earthquake Warning System

India is moving in the direction of setting up early earthquake warning system that gives indications few second before it occurs, thus saving people who can take precautions to escape the wrath of the devastation as witnessed in recent Nepal earthquake.

The system to be developed in association with 26 other countries including Japan, will strengthen the people living in earthquake-prone areas already identified in India, especially in the Himalayan foothills and in west coast.

To coordinate the post-quake recovery and relief, a satellite will also be sent by 2019 to record the displacement on earth and plan the recovery efforts, said Shailesh Nayak, secretary of the ministry of earth science. The visuals taken from the satellite above will show destruction in centimetres range, he said.

India is pioneering the work on early earthquake warning system and roping in scientists, geophysicists and seismologists of all the 27 countries, which are keen to join the ambitious project, said Nayak, after conference in Kolkata on ‘Combating Earthquake Disasters’.

“If this effort becomes successful and the model is developed, we would be able to reduce the number of human casualties substantially,” he noted.

In view of recent findings about the displacement of animals ahead of an earthquake and some chemical changes, he said, “if parameters are developed to observe, study and analyze these change, the quakes can be predicted”.

As part of the project, deep bore wells will be fitted with quake sensors in all seismic zones in the country to monitor any changes in the crust movement of the earth and monitoring of surface movements as well. About 22 states, mostly in northern India, are prone to earthquake and fall under
Severe, High, Moderate and Low categories.

From ancient times, it was known that animals act strange before the earthquake and it was recorded by a study taken up by Cambridge University researchers last year. The team of researchers studied animals in Peru’s Yanachaga National Park for 23 days before a 7.0 earthquake hit Peru in 2011.

Usually active wildlife in the area began to disappear from the place just before the earthquake due to high levels of serotonin in the animals bloodstream. They found that they recorded usually 5 to 15 animal sightings daily but 23 days in the run up to the earthquake, it went down to 5 or less, though the forest is green rainforest and mountainous.

Another study, led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), found that the sensors in smartphones could be used to build earthquake warning systems. The GPS receivers in a smartphone can detect the permanent ground movement caused by fault motion in a large earthquake and using crowdsourced observations from users’ smartphones, scientists could detect and analyze earthquakes, and send them warnings.


Image Credit: “Everyone Check Your Phones – NYC” by Jim Pennucci, CC BY

“Crowdsourced alerting means that the community will benefit by data generated by the community,” said Sarah Minson, USGS geophysicist and lead author, earlier.


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