House Passes Bill To Create Early Warning System Off West Coast

Feb 7, 2019

The House of Representatives has approved a bill (Wednesday) that would create an earthquake earthquake early warning system off the west coast.

A map of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the west coast.
Credit FEMA

The Pacific Northwest Earthquake Preparedness Act of 2019 directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund and install an earthquake early warning system off-shore. University of Oregon Earth Sciences Professor Doug Toomey helped develop an on-shore early warning system in Oregon.

“The lock zone of the Cascadia subduction zone lies primarily offshore." Toomey says, "So the advantage of having sensors offshore are several. One is that they’re closer to the earthquake itself so that helps us better understand that source region and see what’s happening. Also, the onshore system doesn’t provide any information on tsunami early warning.”

A warning system can help the public to prepare and move to safety in the case of an earthquake or tsunami. The bill was introduced by Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio. It still has to pass the Senate and be signed by the president.