Quake warn­ing sys­tem to be in place by 2023

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HOU LIQIANG houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China will build a na­tion­wide earth­quake early warn­ing sys­tem by 2023, said a se­nior emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cial.

It has al­ready fin­ished test­ing an earth­quake alert sys­tem for high-speed trains, and the sys­tem is ex­pected to be ex­tended to the coun­try’s en­tire high-speed rail net­work, said Zheng Guoguang, vice-min­is­ter of emer­gency man­age­ment. He made the re­marks ahead of the In­ter­na­tional Day for Dis­as­ter Re­duc­tion, which falls on Satur­day this year.

The early warn­ing sys­tem, known as the Na­tional Seis­mic In­ten­sity Rapid Re­port­ing and Early Warn­ing project, was ap­proved by cen­tral au­thor­i­ties early last year. It will in­clude more than 15,000 ob­ser­va­tion sta­tions across the coun­try, at a cost of al­most 1.9 bil­lion yuan ($274 mil­lion), and 3,360 ser­vice ter­mi­nals in na­tional and pro­vin­cial govern­ment bod­ies that are re­lated to earth­quake re­lief, as well as in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions and vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture and util­i­ties, such as nu­clear power plants.

Ob­ser­va­tion sta­tions will be set in dif­fer­ent ar­eas ac­cord­ing to earth­quake fre­quency and the po­ten­tial risk of and ef­fects from dis­as­ters. The North-

South Seis­mic Belt, which en­cir­cles most of Sichuan, Gansu and Yun­nan prov­inces, will be one of the key ar­eas for such sta­tions, said Zheng, who also is head of the China Earth­quake Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Seis­mic sen­sors could de­tect the first en­ergy that emerges from a quake be­fore the jolt be­gins. This makes it pos­si­ble to warn those in af­fected ar­eas be­fore they feel the im­pact. The far­ther peo­ple are from the epi­cen­ter, the longer they would have to re­spond in the event of a quake.

Even be­fore the sys­tem won ap­proval, the ad­min­is­tra­tion teamed up in 2012 with the Min­istry of Rail­ways, which has since been reshuf­fled into China Rail­way Corp, to es­tab­lish a team to re­search an earth­quake alert sys­tem for high-speed rail­way.

The sys­tem de­vel­oped by the team has been tested on sev­eral rail­way lines in Fu­jian and Shanxi prov­inces and works very well, Zheng said, adding that his ad­min­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to co­op­er­ate with China Rail­way to ex­tend the sys­tem to all high­speed trains in the coun­try.

The com­ple­tion of the field test of the alert sys­tem on the Da­tong-Xi’an high-speed rail­way in Au­gust marks the quake alert sys­tem’s shift from the re­search and de­vel­op­ment stage to ac­tual use, the ad­min­is­tra­tion said.

Zheng said the sys­tem will prob­a­bly be put into op­er­a­tion first in South­west China, con­sid­er­ing the high fre­quency of earth­quakes there. For ex­am­ple, the Sichuan-Ti­bet rail­way, which is un­der con­struc­tion, crosses four earth­quake faults where 14 earth­quakes above mag­ni­tude 7.0 have oc­curred.

Although China’s quake alert sys­tem for high-speed trains uses ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, the na­tion­wide early warn­ing sys­tem is needed for it to work best, Zheng said. There­fore, the coun­try should ac­cel­er­ate con­struc­tion of the Na­tional Seis­mic In­ten­sity Rapid Re­port­ing and Early Warn­ing project, he said.

Zheng said one chal­lenge that China faces in earth­quake alerts is the par­tic­u­lar na­ture of earth­quakes in the coun­try. Most earth­quake epi­cen­ters around the world oc­cur along tec­tonic plate boundaries, many of which are lo­cated in the ocean. In China, how­ever, most tremor epi­cen­ters oc­cur within the plate on which the coun­try sits, he said. Such coun­tries as Ja­pan and Mex­ico usu­ally have more time to alert peo­ple to a quake, since it takes time for a quake orig­i­nat­ing in the ocean to af­fect land, Zheng added.


Pri­mary school stu­dents crouch un­der desks dur­ing an earth­quake drill on Fri­day in Han­dan, He­bei prov­ince.

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