Uttarakhand earthquake warning system to be extended

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100 new sensors as well as the 84 existing ones spread over 200 kilometers will cover the breach zone and help monitor seismic activity

The Roorkee Institute of Technology of India is setting up a network of 100 seismic sensors between Chamoli and Dharchula in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand as part of an exercise to provide a high magnitude earthquake alert in the Himalayas.

The project supported by the government of Uttarakhand includes the installation of sirens at the state government emergency operations centers in Dehradun and all headquarters in the district. It is based on the existing network of 84 sensors between Uttarkashi and Chamoli in the Garhwal region set up as part of a pilot project supported by the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Talk to India Science WireProf. ML Sharma from the Seismic Engineering Department at IIT Roorkee and the project’s principal investigator, said the deployment of additional sensors would go a long way in protecting not only the people of Uttarakhand, but also those who live further south .

“Data compiled over the past two centuries has shown that large magnitude earthquakes have occurred in different parts of the Himalayas, except for a segment in its central part. It is called Central Seismic Gap. Scientists fear that it has the potential to generate a major earthquake and that it is overdue. Areas within a 200 km radius of Gap could be vulnerable, including Chandigarh, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna and other parts of the heavily populated Indo-Gangetic plain, except Uttarakhand itself ”, Sharma said.

The 100 new sensors as well as the 84 existing ones spread over a distance of 200 km would cover the Gap area and help monitor seismic activity there. The sensors will broadcast real-time data to a server at the Institute using the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) network and the Uttarakhand government SWAN network. The computer will process the data and issue an alert immediately.

When an earthquake occurs, different types of waves with different speeds are generated. P waves travel the fastest at a speed of 5-6 km per second, followed by S waves which travel at a speed of about 3 km per second. But the P wave itself is slower than the electromagnetic wave transmitted by telephone. The sensors would send a signal to the Institute via BSNL telephone towers as soon as a P wave is detected.

Dr Sharma said Dehradun will get a delay of about 10 seconds. “It may not be much. They may not all be able to respond so quickly. But, at least measures could be in place for the immediate shutdown of dangerous units. ” IIT Roorkee, he said, was working on expanding the alert system to cover cities like Delhi and Chandigarh that were in the vulnerable area. Delhi, for example, could get a delay of 70 to 80 seconds. The system is designed to sound an alarm for any earthquake with a magnitude greater than 6 on the Richter scale. (India Science Wire)


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