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Earthquake warning system could give us up to 90 seconds' warning

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Ninety seconds might not seem that long, but it can mean the difference between life and death when an earthquake hits.

An early warning system is being developed to alert people on Vancouver Island about an impending quake.

While an array of coastal sensors can’t predict earthquakes, Kate Moran with Ocean Networks Canada says they can detect the early signs of one, providing up to 90 seconds’ warning.

“There’s many things that can be done in just 10 seconds. You can stop surgery, slow down trains so they don’t derail, you can power down computer systems, emergency management can provide alerts to get people to protect themselves,” she says.

Moran adds the warning system could also be used to automatically shut off valves, “which would save lives, material goods, and businesses.”

She says several groups are working on the early warning system, noting a similar one was in place in Japan in 2011.

Testing is expected to start in 2016.