EARTHQUAKES: Can we detect them?
Due to its location at the edge of an active tectonic plate, Israel has an exceptionally long historic record of earthquake-induced destruction. The oft-cited 1927 (Magnitude 5.2) Jericho earthquake caused over 500 deaths and generated havoc in the region. Paleoseismologists have found extensive geological and archaeological evidence of much stronger and more violent earthquakes in the past. It is only a matter of time before another devastating earthquake strikes the region again.
Although it is impossible to predict the exact time and location of earthquakes, nowadays Earthquake Early Warning Systems (EEWS) can indeed analyze real-time vibrations recorded by sensors in the field and provide an alert before the onset of destructive seismic waves. EEWS are used to trigger multiple automated life-saving procedures and to provide advance warning. EEWS applications include: shutting down gas and electricity networks; stopping trains; aborting airplane landings and takeoffs; interrupting operations in hospitals and industrial processes.
Our department hosts the only earthquake seismology research group in Israel. We have just begun to operate an experimental seismic monitoring network in the Dead Sea region: DeadSeaNet. This network comprises a unique array of mini-arrays that have been deployed on both sides of the seismically-active Dead Sea fault. DeadSeaNet has been specifically designed to provide the fastest possible detection and location of earthquakes, which are then used for real-time earthquake assessment and ensuing alerts. Today, the earthquake seismology research group is taking on an exciting new challenge: Developing an EEWS to provide life-saving warnings that are faster and more reliable than any other system.