“11-15 14:29 6 km north of Buk-gu, Pohang City, North Gyeongsang Province, 5.5 magnitude earthquake occurrence / aftershock. Please take caution.” This is the content of the emergency text alert sent by the Korea Meteorological Administration when an earthquake broke out in Pohang last November. Given that the text only includes information on the time, location and the absolute magnitude of the earthquake, it is difficult for people who receive the text to find out when and how strong of an earthquake is heading towards them at their location.
The Earthquake Research Center under the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources recently developed the “Hybrid Earthquake Early Warning (EEW)” system, which provides information based on facilities in a certain region rather than the place an earthquake took place as well as a smartphones application for alarming earthquakes at its early stage. This application also provides information based on the user’s location, such as expected seismic vibration and the degree of damage (magnitude), the amount of time left until the earthquake reaches the user and actions to take. People will be able to make on-site reports while gaining detailed information regarding the concerned earthquake.
The Hybrid EEW System is carried out by converging data that are collected autonomously in facilities of a region with the central network, which senses earthquakes through national earthquake observatories. “Even if the magnitude of the earthquake is the same, the degree of seismic vibration varies according to the distance from the epicenter, the characteristic of the ground, and the height of a building,” said Park Jeong-ho, a senior researcher of the Earthquake Research Center. “Citizens want to know quake damage on the place they are standing.
A case in point is the accelerograph installed at nationwide high-speed railroad system by the Korean Railroad Corporation to guarantee the safety of railroads. Last year, when an earthquake broke out in Gyeongju last September, the earthquake was sensed at the Dongdaegu Station – Ulsan Station section of the Gyeongbu high-speed railway. “Although we cannot know the place of earthquake but we can at least warn which section is dangerous,” explained Park. “A quick and useful earthquake alert will become possible by just adding site alert system such as infrastructure and industrial facilities.”
The research team is expected to propose its plan to the Korea Meteorological Administration after going through field demonstration and technological supplement until the end of next year. According to the current law, only the KMA chief is able to announce observation results and breaking news about natural disasters. “Even if breaking news is only reported by the KMA, it is necessary for local governments, research bodies, and industries to share information on the observation results,” added Park. “In Japan and Taiwan, prompt responses are taking place through the provision of diverse information based on the participation of the private sector.”