Early warning earthquake detection alarms installed at 52 Metro Vancouver schools

Dec 19 2017, 8:03 pm

Some students in the Lower Mainland will receive advance warning in the event of an earthquake with the installation of earthquake detection alarms at 52 schools.

According to the Canadian Press, 50 Catholic schools and two public schools have received the installation as a part of a jointly funded pilot project between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese and the provincial government.

Sensors installed two metres under the school grounds detect waves that are unique to earthquakes before the violent tremors make their way from the epicentre of the seismic event. Data from the sensors is sent to computers at the University of British Columbia’s Earthquake Engineering Research Facility, which will automatically analyze the waves quickly.

If the waves match the frequency of an earthquake, the computer will initiate the earthquake alarm through the public announcement systems of schools.

This can provide students and faculty with as much as 40 seconds prior notice to duck under desks and find proper shelter to avoid windows and flying debris when the seismic waves arrive.

Safeguards are also in place to prevent false alarms from being triggered. Each school is equipped with two sensors that must go off in order for data to be sent to the UBC computer for analysis.

The most powerful earthquake to hit southern British Columbia since April 23‘s magnitude 6.7 event was Wednesday morning’s magnitude 4.4 earthquake just off the west coast of Vancouver Island.


Feature Image: Seismograph via Shutterstock

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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