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How often can Earthquake Early Warning systems alert sites with high intensity ground motion?

Meier, Men-Andrin and Kodera, Yuki and Böse, Maren and Chung, Angela and Hoshiba, Mitsuyuki and Cochran, Elizabeth and Minson, Sarah and Hauksson, Egill and Heaton, Thomas (2020) How often can Earthquake Early Warning systems alert sites with high intensity ground motion? Journal of Geophysical Research. Solid Earth, 125 (2). Art. No. e2019JB017718. ISSN 2169-9313. doi:10.1029/2019jb017718.

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Although numerous Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) algorithms have been developed to date, we lack a detailed understanding of how often and under what circumstances useful ground motion alerts can be provided to end users. In particular, it is unclear how often EEW systems can successfully alert sites with high ground motion intensities. These are the sites that arguably need EEW alerts the most, but they are also the most challenging ones to alert because they tend to be located close to the epicenter where the seismic waves arrive first. Here we analyze the alerting performance of the Propagation of Local Undamped Motion (PLUM), Earthquake Point‐Source Integrated Code (EPIC), and Finite‐Fault Rupture Detector (FinDer) algorithms by running them retrospectively on the seismic strong‐motion data of the 219 earthquakes in Japan since 1996 that exceeded Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) of 4.5 on at least 10 sites (M_w 4.5–9.1). Our analysis suggests that, irrespective of the algorithm, EEW end users should expect that EEW can often but not always provide useful alerts. Using a conservative warning time (t_w) definition, we find that 40–60% of sites with strong to extreme shaking levels receive alerts with t_w > 5 s. If high‐intensity shaking is caused by shallow crustal events, around 50% of sites with strong (MMI~6) and <20% of sites with severe and violent (MMI ≥ 8) shaking receive alerts with t_w > 5 s. Our results provide detailed quantitative insight into the expected alerting performance for EEW algorithms under realistic conditions. We also discuss how operational systems can achieve longer warning times with more precautionary alerting strategies.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Meier, Men-Andrin0000-0002-2949-8602
Cochran, Elizabeth0000-0003-2485-4484
Minson, Sarah0000-0001-5869-3477
Hauksson, Egill0000-0002-6834-5051
Heaton, Thomas0000-0003-3363-2197
Additional Information:© 2020 American Geophysical Union. Received 25 MAR 2019; Accepted 7 JAN 2020; Accepted article online 10 JAN 2020. The authors would like to thank Jeff McGuire, Annemarie Baltay, Stephen Hickman, the Associate Editor, and an anonymous reviewer for constructive comments that helped improve the manuscript. We also thank Deborah Smith, Jennifer Andrews, and Claude Felizardo and the ShakeAlert team for valuable support and inputs. The Japanese waveform data can be downloaded online ( (last accessed October 2017). This research was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Grant 5229 to Caltech, USGS Cooperative Agreements G17AC00347, G19AS00034 and G19AC00252 and by a Swiss National Science Foundation fellowship to M.‐A. Meier.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation5229
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:seismology; earthquake early warning; seismic hazard; natural hazards
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200113-134634209
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Meier, M.‐A., Kodera, Y., Böse, M., Chung, A., Hoshiba, M., Cochran, E., et al. (2020). How often can Earthquake Early Warning systems alert sites with high‐intensity ground motion?. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125, e2019JB017718.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100687
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Jan 2020 23:31
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:56

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