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Gov. Davis's proposed budget includes funds for UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory to improve northern state's earthquake monitoring system
12 Jan 2001

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Berkeley - Gov. Gray Davis this week proposed spending $6.8 million per year for the next five years to improve California's earthquake monitoring network, with a major fraction of the funds going to the University of California, Berkeley, to deploy more earthquake sensors in the northern part of the state.

The funds, requested in the 2001-2002 budget Davis sent to the state legislature on Wednesday, also would replace some temporary federal funds that have helped expand the seismic monitoring network throughout southern California. The southern network, called TriNet, provides emergency preparedness agencies and Caltrans with real-time information on the magnitude and location of a quake, plus maps pinpointing the areas of most severe shaking.

With the proposed state funds, UC Berkeley and the California Division of Mines and Geology would expand the number of earthquake monitor stations in the northern part of the state, so that ShakeMaps in northern California can be as accurate as those in the South.

"These funds are really important for the earthquake monitoring infrastructure in northern California, and will bring us close to parity with southern California," said Lind Gee, a seismologist in the Seismological Laboratory at UC Berkeley. "But they also will help us do earthquake monitoring in a more integrated way between the northern and southern parts of the state, establish backup systems for one another, and in general improve the network beyond where we are now."

Gee noted that shake maps, provided as quickly as 5-10 minutes after an earthquake, have helped agencies in southern California deal with the aftermath of quakes, and in last September's 5.2 Napa quake were used extensively by various northern California agencies.

"This kind of information is very useful in order to know where to deploy resources, pinpointing areas where the ground shook the hardest and thus where the most damage may have occurred," she said. "With computer software now available, shake map data also can be combined with other information to project damage and loss."

The budget item directs the money to a new California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN), composed of the US Geological Survey (USGS), the California Division of Mines and Geology (CDMG), UC Berkeley and Caltech. The state Office of Emergency Services would lead the project and coordinate with other state agencies, asking CISN partners to carry out technical development of this statewide system. This includes deploying seismic stations in northern California, implementing data processing and reporting systems, and funding the operation, maintenance and further improvement of the existing TriNet system in southern California.

As part of the program in northern California, the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory would significantly expand the Berkeley Digital Seismic Network. The new seismic stations would include broadband sensors to obtain good measurements of small to medium quakes, plus strong motion sensors to accurately measure the largest quakes. In addition, CDMG would deploy a number of strong-motion sensors in the north as part of the California Strong-Motion Instrumentation Program.

The proposed funding would leverage the more than $20 million already invested in TriNet from the federal and private sectors in California as part of Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) disaster recovery program for the 1994 Northridge earthquake. That money expires this year. The state funds also would leverage funding from the federal Advanced National Seismic System, which is expected to come to California through the USGS.

According to Barbara Romanowicz, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and chair of the CISN Steering Committee, "The CISN is needed because the distribution of state of the art seismic systems in northern California is not dense enough to serve the needs of the emergency response, engineering, and seismological communities. In particular, a dense network combining weak motion and strong motion sensors, with real-time data access, is needed to accurately map out the distribution of shaking, identify the vulnerable spots in urban areas and understand their relation to underlying soil and geological structures as well as to the built environment.

The instrumentation in remote areas of California also is insufficient to produce reliable ShakeMaps for emergency response.

"California has a lock on earthquake risk in this country," Gee said, noting that a FEMA study published this year estimated an annualized earthquake loss to building stock in the United States of $4.4 billion, of which approximately $3.3 billion, or 74 percent, is concentrated in California.

"CISN money will go a long way toward upgrading our current earthquake monitoring system to deal with this risk," she said, "and we're thrilled that the governor has made it part of his budget proposal."



California Integrated Seismic Network
USGS Menlo Park
USGS Pasadena
Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
Caltech Seismological Laboratory
Shake Maps
Advanced National Seismic System