Member Highlight: Earthquake Sensor Network Aims To Give B.C. Crucial Seconds To Prepare For The ‘Big One’

2018-10-22T12:08:20+00:00 October 22, 2018|
(Credit: Ocean Networks Canada)

(Credit: Ocean Networks Canada)

New system was put to the test with a Canada Line simulation

(By CBC News with files from Johanna Wagstaffe) — A network of eight underwater sensors and 32 land-based seismic and GPS sensors on Vancouver Island is up and running and could make all the difference when a big earthquake hits. It’s part of Ocean Networks Canada’s early warning system for southwestern British Columbia. The research group from the University of Victoria was awarded $5 million for the venture. The system will estimate how powerful an earthquake is and issue a warning to a network of alarms across B.C. —indicating how much time before the destructive shockwaves hit.

Earthquake simulation

The system was put to the test recently in the Canada Line control room. It simulated a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Staff had 38 seconds to prepare. “The first thing we’d do is get those trains to stop as close as possible to a station,” explained Ron Powell, the general manager of the Canada Line. “Depending upon where they are and how much time we have, that may be very possible … That’s the safest place for trains to be. That’s where all of our emergency response, our evacuations take place at those stations.”

Scientists are preparing for the so-called “Big One.” That’s the magnitude 9.0 megathrust earthquake that will happen along the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of Vancouver Island. When it does, Ocean Networks Canada’s sensors will pick up the earthquake’s waves of energy at the moment they are triggered. Those sensors will then send a warning to the rest of the South Coast that will get there up to 90 seconds before the destructive shock waves arrive…

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