USGS awards $10.4M for Northwest quake alerts

PNSN installation on Mount St. Helens
Karl Hagel and Pat McChesney, field engineers with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network team at the University of Washington, install earthquake monitoring equipment on the slopes of Mount St. Helens, with Mount Hood visible in the distance. (UW / PNSN Photo / Marc Biundo)

The U.S. Geological Survey is setting aside $10.4 million over the next two years to boost the ShakeAlert earthquake early-warning system in the Pacific Northwest.

About $7.3 million of the funding, which is part of a broader ShakeAlert expansion program announced today, will go to the University of Washington.

Funds will be used to upgrade the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, or PNSN, which monitors earthquake activity in Washington and Oregon.

“This investment in PNSN represents a major increase in federal support for earthquake monitoring in the Cascadia region,” UW seismologist Harold Tobin, the network’s director, said in a news release. “At the end of the two years of funding we anticipate having essentially doubled the number of seismic stations across our whole region that contribute to real-time earthquake early warning.”

Tobin said the network’s expansion “would allow for full public alerts of any potentially damaging earthquakes, across our entire region of Washington and Oregon, by the end of the two-year period.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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