Recovery Act Funds Will Upgrade Earthquake Monitoring

usgsUSGS will Grant Universities $5 Million to Beef Up Public Safety

Grants totaling $5 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being awarded to 13 universities nationwide to upgrade critical earthquake monitoring networks and increase public safety.

“These stimulus grants will save lives as well as create jobs,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today. “More than 75 million Americans in 39 states face the risk of earthquakes. Through the modernization of seismic networks and data processing centers, scientists will be able to provide emergency responders with more reliable, robust information to save lives and reduce economic losses.”

Grants are awarded by the U.S. Geological Survey, and monitoring is a key component of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System. ANSS is a national network of sophisticating shaking monitors placed both on the ground and in buildings in urban areas. The ANSS “strong motion” instruments give emergency response personnel real-time maps of severe ground shaking and provide engineers with information to create stronger and sounder structures for homes, bridges, buildings, and utility and communication networks.

“These investments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide jobs for the manufacturers of the equipment, the geophysical contractors who perform installations, and the colleges and universities that run regional earthquake networks and are training the next generation of earthquake scientists in partnership with USGS,” Salazar noted.

In California and other high-hazard regions, some parts of the current system include 40-year-old technology, and even the systems most recently upgraded date back to 1997. Think about what a 12-year-old computer looks like. Stimulus funding will replace old instruments with state-of-the-art, robust systems across the highest earthquake hazard areas in California, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, the Intermountain West, and the central and eastern United States.

The new monitoring systems will be more energy-efficient than the ones they replace and will make solar power the primary power source in remote locations. Engaging students in the siting and installation will provide a unique educational experience and help to train the next generation of earthquake scientists.

Because the investments will modernize aging equipment at existing stations, they do not represent out-year commitments and the new equipment should lower future maintenance costs. The investments in earthquake monitoring meet the stated Recovery Act criteria of being “temporary, targeted and timely” – spending that will flow directly into the economy.

Universities receiving funding include: Montana Tech of the University of Montana; California Institute of Technology; University of Oregon; University of Utah; University of California, San Diego; University of Washington; Saint Louis University; University of Memphis; Boston College, University of Nevada, Reno; University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University; and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

For more information, visit the Department of the Interior Recovery Investments Web site.

[Source: USGS press release]