Earthquake early warning feasibility study for the new Madrid seismic zone


In the last decade, research on earthquake early warning systems (EEWSs) has undergone rapid development in terms of theoretical and methodological advances. These include advances in real-time data analysis, improved telemetry, and computer technology; they are becoming useful tools for practical real-time seismic hazard mitigation. The main focus of this project is to undertake a feasibility study of an EEWS for the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ) from the standpoint of source location. Magnitude determination is addressed in a separate paper. The NMSZ covers a wide area with several heavily populated cities, vital infrastructures, and facilities located within a radius of less than 70 km from the epicenters of the 1811-1812 earthquakes. One of the challenges associated with the NMSZ is that whereas low-to-moderate levels of seismic activity are common, larger earthquakes are rare (i.e., there are no instrumentally recorded data for earthquakes with magnitudes greater than M 5.5 in the NMSZ). We also recognize that it may not be realistic to provide early warnings for all possible sources, as is done on the west coast of the United States; as such, we focus on a specific source zone. We examine the stations within the NMSZ to answer the following question: “What changes should be applied to the NMSZ network to make it suitable for EEW?” We also explore needed changes to the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) earthquake monitoring system real time (AQMS RT) data acquisition system (DAS) to make it useful for EEW. Our results show that EEW is feasible, though several technical challenges remain in incorporating its use with the present network.

Publication Title

Seismological Research Letters