The chances that California may soon experience a mega earthquake are dangerously high. With this, members of the United States Congress say the state needs an early warning system that can help improve survival chances.

Experts say California's current earthquake risk situation is much like being "10 months pregnant." Such description means that the Big One, or a magnitude seven or higher earthquake may soon occur. The world will witness natural disasters that can cause the lives of many people.

In a new study by the Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, magnitude 6.7 earthquake went down by about 30 percent and the frequency decreased from one within 4.8 years to one within 6.3 years. However, the likelihood that California will experience a magnitude eight or higher earthquake in the next three decades rose from 4.7 percent to 7 percent.

"Someday in our future we may have a very serious earthquake out there and I'm sure when that happens all of us will lament the fact that we hadn't done more to be ready for it," said seismology Professor Thomas Heaton.

Early Warning System

An early warning system will help determine when operations of various sectors need to be delayed due to an impending earthquake. For example, the system may warn public railway transportation when to slow down trains.

Another benefit of an early warning system is informing surgeons when to stop major operations to prevent complications and untoward surgical mishaps.

Early warning system is being implemented in different countries already. For Rep. Adam Schiff from D-Burbank., it is "mystifying" that the system is not yet established in the U.S., where Silicon Valley is found and institutions like California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and U.S. Geological Survey have already started relevant work.

The legislators are particularly looking at using a system being developed by Caltech. As for the group, their system can help save lives in a matter of seconds. They also said that with the right investment, their system can be expanded along the west coast, which is a highly vulnerable area.

"This early warning system is an investment we need to make now, not after the 'big one' hits,'' said Schiff.

Call for Funding

On Dec. 18, the Congress approved a funding bill that entails $8.2 million for a system that is able to notify concerned departments of impending earthquakes in the West Coast.

The issue has urged some members of the Congress to ask President Barack Obama for funding. The legislators specifically called out for an annual budget of $16 million to sustain the system.

Photo: Joe Lewis | Flickr

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