DC Quake: Will It Help Us Get Funding?

"It's often thought of as a West Coast problem"

By Olga Spilewsky and Conan Nolan
|  Thursday, Aug 25, 2011  |  Updated 2:09 PM PDT
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Now that DC has been jolted, will lawmakers provide emergency earthquake funding to Southern California?

Conan Nolan

Now that DC has been jolted, will lawmakers provide emergency earthquake funding to Southern California?

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The Virginia earthquake might have left lawmakers in Washington D.C. shaking, but it remains to be seen whether the seismic event changed their outlook on emergency earthquake funding.

Seismologist have been placing sensors all around California for years to record shaking. But, it's not an early warning system.

Now that the nation's capital got a big jolt, will lawmakers "green light" emergency funding for an early warning system? Some experts say it's a matter of priorities.

"In the U.S., in my view of the earthquake problem, it's often thought of as a West Coast problem," said Caltech seismologist, Dr. Tom Heaton. "The other part of the country doesn't really see it as a national problem."

Japan has a very extensive early warning alert system. The Japanese use seismographs to pick up secondary "P" waves, alerting schools, businesses and homes before the primary waves hit. The system is credited for saving many lives in the most recent earthquake in Japan.

"Right now, many in the nation's capital probably view the earthquakes as another California or West Coast idiosyncrasy," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena).

Schiff has been advocating for an early warning system for years. He notes that Japan spends more than 30 times what the U.S. does on earthquakes, likely, he said because Tokyo feels them regularly.

"There's obviously a lot at stake, lives at stake, property at stake," he said. "So, this is something we really need to put into effect."

Related: DC Quake: A Moment of California Superiority

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