Last November the monks of New Clairvaux Abbey granted permission to a UC Berkeley team to install a small Seismic Station, and the unit has now been set up on the monastery property, in an unobtrusive spot near the Abbey’s Holy Trinity field walnut orchard.
The station is part of the “Seismic Stations for California’s Earthquake Early Warning System, Shake Alert” which detects Earthquakes so quickly that an alert can reach millions of people before strong shaking arrives. UC Berkeley and its partners operating California’s seismic network, CISN, are developing and implementing the Shake Alert earthquake early warning system to identify and characterize an earthquake within a few seconds after it begins. With this system they are able to calculate the expected intensity of ground shaking, and can send warnings to people in harm’s way. To reliably distribute warnings for all parts of the State, it is important to have a robustly operating, dense network of seismic stations capable of providing data that can be used in Shake Alert. The best locations for these stations are those with minimum urban noise. Currently there are 538 stations distributed through the state of California and the Abbey is proud to have one installed in its property.
Using P-wave information, Shake Alert first estimates the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and an alert is made available for delivery to devices that will initiate automated actions and people who will be prompted to take an action such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On. The method can provide warning before the Secondary (S)-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.