Utah Explores Potential for Early Warning System to Predict Earthquakes

Salt Lake City, Utah: Rep. Doug Owens, a Democrat from Millcreek, is urging the Natural Resources Appropriations Committee to give priority to Utah’s request for an early warning system to predict earthquakes.

According to experts from the Utah Geological Survey, an early warning system could potentially provide residents in Ogden with a one-second advance notice if an earthquake were to occur in Brigham City. Similarly, those in Salt Lake City could receive a 16-second early warning, while residents in Provo might have a 33-second head start.

Utah currently has approximately 170 sensors that are compatible with the early warning system. They are firmly entrenched in the ground and primarily located around the Wasatch Front, gradually spreading throughout the state.

According to researchers at the University of Utah, additional sensors are required, spaced approximately 12.5 miles apart, along with upgrades to existing technology, in order to establish and activate the system.

Owens suggests that the funds could potentially be used to incorporate the system into various aspects, such as Frontrunner, enabling it to automatically halt a train in the event of an earthquake.

According to Dr. Emily Morton, a research scientist at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, efforts are underway to integrate this system with phone companies for the purpose of alerting people on their phones. Automation could potentially enable utility companies to remotely shut off gas, power, and water lines.

Specialists caution that the consequences of the earthquake may worsen the number of casualties.

The allocation of funds will follow the standard legislative procedure for appropriations, with committee members voting on their respective priorities. The chair subsequently takes them to the Executive Appropriations Committee. A final funding bill is released for voting by members of the House and Senate.

The influential Executive Appropriations Committee has two more meetings scheduled before the session concludes on March 1.