10-second alert: the view from the Berkeley Seismo Lab

BERKELEY —

“Earthquake…. earthquake…” That was the warning to scientists at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory at 3:20 a.m. Sunday morning, 5 seconds before the first waves rolled through Berkeley and 10 seconds before the peak shaking from a 6.0 magnitude temblor along the Napa Fault that rattled people and buildings from wine country down to San Francisco and as far south as Fresno.

Berkeley received a 5-second warning of the first ground movement from the 6.0 magnitude Napa quake, while strong shaking arrived 5 seconds later. Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

It came from the ShakeAlert system being tested by UC Berkeley, Caltech, the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners.

Richard Allen, the lab’s director, wrote in a recent issue of the journal Nature that action taken last fall by Gov. Jerry Brown to create a California earthquake early-warning system should be followed by the United States and other countries, “rather than waiting until the next big quake galvanizes political action” because of loss of life and property.

For more on the ShakeAlert system, see the NewsCenter’s October 2013 story, U.S. should follow California lead on earthquake early warning, expert says.