The small earthquake that struck Southern California early Monday served seismologists by showing the utility of the state’s new earthquake early warning system, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Although the 4.7 jolt passed quickly and caused no measurable damage in the Los Angeles area, hundreds of sensors embedded near its epicenter in Anza, Calif., sent an alert to seismologists at Caltech in Pasadena, 30 seconds before they felt the quake.
Computer screens flashed and gave an accurate countdown to when the shaking would hit the campus.
Seismologists noted that though the system overestimated the quake’s strength initially, the primary goal of the system is to alert people to a coming quake, not immediately measure its magnitude.
Scientists hope the early warning system, now a pilot project, will eventually be developed into a statewide network with thousands of sensors, which would trigger alarms to alert authorities to shut down potentially dangerous services.
Japan, Mexico and Taiwan have already implemented similar systems.